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Hamilton wants to stay with Hurricanes

Defenseman entering final year of contract, can become unrestricted free agent after season

by Kurt Dusterberg / Independent Correspondent

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Dougie Hamilton said he wants to remain with the Carolina Hurricanes and is hopeful a new contract will be worked out.

The 27-year-old defenseman can become an unrestricted free agent after this season, the final of a six-year contract he signed with the Calgary Flames on June 30, 2015. 

"For me, I'd like to stay here, but I'm going to let my agent (J.P. Barry) and [Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell] talk," Hamilton said. "I just want to focus on hockey and helping the team win."

Hamilton scored 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) in 47 games last season and was among the leading contenders for the Norris Trophy as the top defenseman in the NHL before fracturing his left fibula against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 16. He was able to finish rehab and return for the Eastern Conference First Round, when he scored two points (one goal, one assist) in five games against the Boston Bruins.

Video: Hurricanes defenceman wants to stay in Carolina

Since being acquired by Carolina in a trade from Calgary on June 23, 2018, Hamilton has scored 79 points, including leading NHL defensemen with 32 goals, in 129 games.

"From what I've heard, we've certainly been trying to sign him," Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "I think that's a priority. He's a big part of our team." 

If contract talks drag on throughout the season, Brind'Amour said he does not expect it to become a distraction.

"I understand that being in that situation can certainly put pressure on a player, so we don't want to do that," Brind'Amour said. "Hopefully, they come to some sort of agreement because we love him around here."

In November, Waddell said he was hopeful to get Hamilton's contract taken care of before the season started, although they waited a bit before starting negotiations to see how the coronavirus pandemic and the NHL salary cap remaining at $81.5 million would impact the free agent market.

"We'd like to get that one done sooner than later," Waddell said. "That one, you would have doubts if you play out the season, so it makes sense to try to get something done before the start of the season."

The Hurricanes, who will play in the Discover Central Division, begin their season at the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 14.

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