Calgary Flames

Revisiting the winners and losers of the Dougie Hamilton trade

The Calgary Flames have had a wealth of success this season. Currently leading the Pacific Division with games in hand, they are poised and prepared for what is hopefully a long playoff run and consistent success going into next season.

The team is being led this year by the performances of Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane, Jacob Markstrom and Elias Lindholm. The latter of which had just recently tied the franchise record for goals scored in consecutive games with eight.

This is being highlighted for one main point, and spoiler alert if you had previously read this title, but after tying this record, you couldn’t help but look back on the trade that sent the Swedish centre to Calgary back in 2018.

Call it the Lindholm/Noah Hanifin trade, the Dougie Hamilton trade, or the Adam Fox trade, but we all know it well:

To CalgaryTo Carolina
Elias Lindholm
Noah Hanifin
Dougie Hamilton
Micheal Ferland
Adam Fox (rights)

With the Calgary Flames playing exceptionally well and with Lindholm and Hanifin being key pieces of this puzzle, it begs the question how do you actually define who won this trade? 

There are always trades that are lopsided, look at the Doug Gilmour, Ryan O’Reilly, Taylor Hall, or Tuukka Rask deals as just small examples. More interestingly though are the ones that cause far more debate like this one.

So take a journey with us as we try to define a winner:

The Players

Elias Lindholm

Calgary Flames260100133233+72

Since joining the Flames, Lindholm’s offensive production skyrocketed. He has scored at a 0.89 point-per-game pace, established himself as one of the most underrated two way centres in the league, and this season found amazing chemistry with Gaudreau and Tkachuk.

Lindholm is on pace to set a career-high in goals and points this year and has been everything the Flames have wanted and more in a number one centre. You also cannot forget that he is making just $4.85M a season, which is more than a steal in this market.

Noah Hanifin

Calgary Flames249197796+14

The 2015 fifth overall pick may have entered his Calgary tenure with far more expectations than was realistic, but Hanifin has slowly developed into a consistent and dependable top-pairing defenceman alongside Rasmus Andersson.

He may not have the same flash as the other defencemen on this list, but he’s been able to carve himself out a key role on the defence for years to come. Hanifin has been effective at 5v5, on the power play, and occasionally even on the penalty kill. While he has had moments where he has struggled, his game has taken a huge step forward over the last two seasons.

Dougie Hamilton

Carolina Hurricanes1844279121+50
New Jersey Devils3481523-4

Hamilton never seemed to mesh in Calgary, at least according to rumours, but was able to flourish in Carolina. Earning Norris Trophy votes, and leading the blueline in terms of offensive production, Hamilton was a force to be reckoned with. It was clear the Flames had given up the better defenceman in the deal, and Hamilton helped the Hurricanes to a few deep playoff runs.

Of course this offseason, Hamilton took his talents to New Jersey where a season of injuries have limited his total numbers. He looks to be back up to speed now, and will be a consistent producer for years to come on his big contract.

Micheal Ferland

Carolina Hurricanes71172340+13
Vancouver Canucks14145-3

Ferland had a strong first season in Carolina, almost putting up a career year in terms of goals and points. He was the perfect player for the Canes, but left in free agency to join the Vancouver Canucks.

Unfortunately, concussion problems have since ended Ferland’s career. He was a fan favourite in all three cities he played in and was no doubt going to have more success in his career were it not for the concussions.

Adam Fox

New York Rangers17620122142+53

Ah Adam Fox. Included in the trade as what most people viewed as a throw-in, Fox has developed to be probably the best player in this trade.

He was traded to the New York Rangers soon after—the only place he wanted to play—and has since become one of the league’s best defencemen. His Norris Trophy from last year solidifies that.

Trade winning scenarios

Now that we know who the players are, and what they have become, let’s look at the various options to choose from.

Scenario 1: The Calgary Flames won; the Carolina Hurricanes lost

This would be the less stressful of the options for Flames fans. Just admit the team did well and move on.

It’s actually quite viable of a situation, the Flames were able to turn a player that may not have fit the system and culture (Hamilton), an expiring contract that they wouldn’t have been able to retain (Ferland), and an unsigned prospect that would have refused to sign (Fox), into two players that have played a combined for 509 games played in Calgary.

Combine that with the fact that both players signed extremely team-friendly deals throughout most of their prime, and the Flames were able to get two players for assets they didn’t really want and could have lost for nothing.

On the other side, this scenario would show that Carolina loses based on the fact they lost Ferland and Hamilton for nothing, and have just two prospects to show for Fox that may or may not be NHL ready.

Scenario 2: The Calgary Flames won and lost

A bit of a hot take—no pun intended—but the view that the Flames both won and lost this deal is not just a cop-out, it makes a ton of sense.

Combine all of the same factors presented in Scenario 1, and include the fact that the Flames ended up giving up the two best players in this deal, it’s a win-lose scenario.

Are the Flames successful with Lindholm and Hanifin? Yes. Would they have preferred the current versions of Fox and Hamilton in the lineup? Most likely.

Some trades are based solely on which team ended up with the better player, and in those terms the Flames most likely don’t win. Regardless of how much value Lindholm brings to the lineup.

Scenario 3: The Calgary Flames lose, the Carolina Hurricanes lose, and the New York Rangers win

For more glass half empty fans, this is the view you will hear the most.

The Flames gave up two Norris calibre defencemen in the same deal, the Hurricanes only have two prospects left to show for the deal, while the New York Rangers have the reigning Norris Trophy winner.

Personally, this scenario makes it seem like the Flames gave up their best players for free, which is not the case, but in a game where puck moving offensively gifted defensemen are a luxury, they may have gotten taken to the cleaners.

It’s all a matter of perspective

Depending on which side of the rink you sit on, you are bound to have different opinions on what classifies as a “win” here. The Flames improved in certain areas, while also giving up the two best players in the deal. The Canes were able to get a few solid seasons out of Hamilton and one good one out of Ferland before seeing them walk, and only picked up a few picks for Fox.

I think at a high level you can say the Flames won the deal compared to the Canes, but comparing all factors makes it a bit complicated.

This is what makes this debate so intriguing as every argument for or against can sway your opinion. Depending on how Lindholm or Hanifin plays on a nightly basis, that view can also shift.

This debate will continue for years to come and will most likely be a topic to revisit in another year to see which side of the coin the Flames are leaning towards.

Photo Credit: Getty Images via TSN

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