The NHL trade rumor carousel spins along, week after week, and Calgary Flames defenseman Dougie Hamilton would likely rather not be on this particular ride.
The latest batch of grist for the mill came via Toronto’s TSN 1050 Tuesday morning, beginning with Darren Dreger being asked if he feels there’s anything to the suggestion that the Leafs and Calgary Flames are discussing potential trades.
“Uh, no. There’s nothing official,” said Dreger. “I think that the Toronto Maple Leafs would have interest in upgrading their blueline in any way, and if Dougie Hamilton were actually on the market, why wouldn’t Lou Lamoriello and the Toronto Maple Leafs express some interest. The fit has to be right for both Calgary and Toronto to make it work. That’s obvious.
“So I think Toronto should be intrigued by Dougie Hamilton. But as Ray Ferraro just pointed out there (in the preceding audio clip), Hamilton is valued by the Calgary Flames. His game has improved over the last three weeks to a month.”
Dreger then noted that big, young, right-shot defensemen are hard to find, and that the Flames committed to Hamilton when they made the trade by signing him to that six-year, $34.5 million pact – “So they’re not pushing him out the door.”
“It’s a story that we have to continue to follow,” observed Dreger. “And I’ll tell you this much – what was real was the dialogue between, say, Arizona and other teams with Treliving the Calgary Flames around draft time specific to Dougie Hamilton.”
So much of this trade talk in general comes down to semantics.
A general manager may not be actively shopping a player, meaning he’s not the one contacting other teams about the player. But GMs can – and do – still listen when a counterpart inquires about that player. Short of a handful of virtually untouchable players in the league, why would a general manager not at least listen to any potential interest?
Dreger was asked where he thinks the Flames are on this scale concerning Dougie Hamilton.
“Good question, and it’s a good way to qualify,” said Dreger. “I think on that scale, Treliving is in a place where if someone is calling, he’s willing to listen. But we in the media have done the bidding, right. Hamilton’s name is out there because we continue to talk about it, right or wrong.
“… I think that Calgary is at least willing to listen, but they know that if they make a deal like this, especially as fragile as the organization is – and maybe that’s a bigger story than Dougie Hamilton potentially being trade bait here. That team is wildly inconsistent. There’s already questions, of course, around Treliving’s future as the general manager, around newly-hired coach Glen Gulutzan. And that’s not unusual for a team that has high expectations that is struggling with consistency. We just saw what happened on the weekend with Gerard Gallant and the Florida Panthers.
“So there’s a lot of things percolating in Calgary. So maybe Treliving does something significant like this, not just with Toronto, but moving Hamilton or a bigger piece to try and shake up the core.”
In the final two years of Hamilton’s contract -2019-20 and 2020-21 – he’ll have some trade protection, but not until that point. CapFriendly indicates that his modified NTC will allow him to name 12 teams to which he doesn’t want to be dealt.
The final part of this conversation on 1050’s ‘Naylor and Landsberg in the morning’ was particularly interesting.
Does Dreger directly ask the general managers if they’re talking trade? Does he get an answer? Does he believe that answer?
“I do ask it that directly,” said Dreger. “And sometimes it’s just simply a text that just says, ‘Are you hearing anything out there? There’s some rumor and speculation around you guys that you might be willing to do this.’ And you throw out a name. Or you keep it more broad, more vague.
“And it’s like fishing. Sometimes they’ll bite and they’ll give you more than you were expecting. Sometimes you’ve got to work at it a little bit.
“But just to circle back to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Calgary Flames, specific to the rumors over the past day or two – I asked Brad Treliving point-blank yesterday if he had anything going on with the Toronto Maple Leafs. I didn’t suggest Hamilton. I just said ‘Anything.’ And his response was: ‘Nothing. Zero.’
“So when managers tell you that that specifically – that bluntly – then that means that they don’t want that conversation to continue on because there’s nothing there, at least for the moment.”
So then the natural question would be what if something was going on, but he didn’t want Dreger to know about it. How would Treliving have handled that?
“Good question. He probably wouldn’t answer,” said Dreger. “Brad is media-friendly. I’m not saying that he leaks information. He doesn’t. He’s very careful and protective of his organization. But he’s not afraid of the media. And I’ve known him a long time. If there was something that was going on that was significant, he’d lay low. He’s not going to spill the beans. But that wasn’t the case. The response was fairly swift.
“Now, I did hear probably a couple or three weeks ago that there was some contact with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but it seemed like it was on a smaller scale. Like he was looking at Leipsic or maybe an American Hockey League fit. And that happens all of the time.
“And also keep in mind here guys of where we’re at on the calendar. Around Hall of Fame weekend they have the General Managers meetings in Toronto. And that’s a great opportunity for all GMs to come together and just start bandying about little ideas and perhaps possibilities, and then they work from there. So that could have been around the same time as well.
“But obviously nothing has materialized on that front either.”
Source: TSN 1050
For reference: Covering the Insiders