2015 NHL Free Agency: Dougie Hamilton, Dallas Stars a Good Fit

Dougie Hamilton is "available" and fits what the Stars need. Is it even possible?

Edit: Yes, the Stars would need to re-acquire their 2016 3rd round pick from Buffalo first.

The Dallas Stars are on the prowl for a young-ish defenseman that they can put on the top pair for a number of years. These guys usually don't move, but for a team willing to buck convention and make a restricted free agent offer, there is a slim chance of making a deal happen.

The Philadelphia Flyers signed Shea Weber to a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet in 2012. Weber got paid significantly up front. His contract guaranteed $68 million in signing bonus money plus his annual salaries just over the first six years.

And yet, he's still with the Nashville Predators.

The Flyers tried to poach Weber from a team with cap space that already saw Ryan Suter leave for the Minnesota Wild. They made a reasonable offer, but the circumstances weren't right. The way to make waves with a restricted free agent is to find one you think is worth a hefty payday who has rights belonging to a team with limited cap space.

Enter Dougie Hamilton of the Boston Bruins. Boston has 14 players under contract at the NHL level for next season with $7 million in cap space. Marc Savard is still on their cap so they could ultimately open up a maximum of $11-12 million. That isn't much space left for improving a team that was mediocre at best last season. If a team makes a bid that makes the Bruins uncomfortable they might have to consider letting him go. Or, the threat of an offer sheet could make the Bruins more likely to consider a trade.

Is Hamilton worth it?

The answer to that question is of course he is.

Ryan Lambert already pulled this for Puck Daddy, and you can play around with it too if you want. The table featured are the most comparable recent seasons to Hamilton's 2015 season according to War-On-Ice. There are a lot of good defensemen on this list.

Kris Letang shows up a couple times. Kevin Bieksa is there twice. Alex Pietrangelo, Zdeno Chara, Mark Giordano, and Jake Muzzin are there too. He's in very elite company already at age 21.

Hamilton registered 42 points in 72 games. He would have led the Stars defense corps in points by two over John Klingberg, though Klingberg's points-per-game average was higher. If the Stars were able to match Hamilton and Klingberg together for the next decade with support from Patrik Nemeth and Jason Demers, they would have an enviable defense with even more coming.

Hamilton also brings size. At 6-foot-5, 212 points he would be the Stars biggest regular defenseman. He uses his size to annihilate people.

Jeff Skinner is small, but still. Ouch.

Here Hamilton is crushing a poor kid in juniors:

Hamilton is on the verge of being a superstar. He could develop into even more of a menace if he adds more bulk to his big frame. He's already an offensive force. Finding flaws in his game would be nitpicking. Hamilton is awesome, and he's going to get paid significantly.

Would the Stars use an offer sheet?

In the past the answer would have seemed to be a resounding no. but check out the compensation guidelines for restricted free agents this offseason courtesy of Eyes on the Prize:

The three questions that need to be answered to make an offer to Hamilton are "How much is he worth in a trade", "How much money would you need to offer him to make Boston let him go", and "How much money would you want to pay him based on talent". The first question is almost irrelevant given how relatively low the compensation is this season.

If any team signs Hamilton to a contract between $3,652,659 and $7,305,316 the cost is a first and third round pick with an added second rounder if the contract is above $5,478,986, I don't think anyone is going to argue he's worth less in trade than the most he's likely to require in draft pick compensation so the only real consideration is where is the sweet spot where Boston gets nervous.

The chances of Boston letting Hamilton go can't be good given his talent, youth, and expected price tag. A team is going to have to come in hard to make the Bruins think about it. Of the top-10 highest-paid defensemen in the league, the lowest cap hit is $6,500,000. If a team is going to steal Hamilton, he's going to join that group very soon.

Is an offer sheet for Hamilton a risk the Stars should take? They would have to acquire a third-round pick to make it possible in the relevant salary categories, but that's certainly doable around draft time. He may never develop further, but he is the most obvious available talent that could give the Stars the potential long-term top-pairing defenseman they desire.