In today's NHL, the offseason waits for no one – not even the Stanley Cup.
Insider Elliotte Friedman injected a dose of pure, unfiltered caffeine into the hockey world on Monday morning, breaking the news that the Carolina Hurricanes have reportedly given star defenseman Dougie Hamilton permission to talk to other teams ahead of the approaching free agency period.
This development, according to Friedman, opens up the possibility for another team to orchestrate a sign-and-trade for Hamilton, who is set to hit the open market on July 28.
Naturally, the lineup of teams salivating over the possibility of getting their hands on Hamilton will assuredly stretch around the block. The 27-year-old possesses nearly every trait one looks for in the ideal modern defenseman; consistently generating elite offense from the back-end both on the power play and at even-strength, logging heavy minutes against the top opposing competition on a nightly basis, and doing so while putting up dazzling possession numbers year after year.
Not to mention, Hamilton is smack-dab in the middle of his prime, meaning that whichever team manages to secure the star defender will therefore be acquiring the best years of his career.
Players of Hamilton's calibre, quite frankly, rarely hit the open market. And that, funnily enough, is what the Hurricanes are banking on.
Giving Hamilton the opportunity to check if the grass truly is greener on the other side is a risky proposition, yes. But even if Hamilton does succumb to the seduction of another team's offer, the possibility of a sign-and-trade would still allow the Hurricanes to recoup assets for a player they were ultimately bound to lose anyway. And for rival GMs hell-bent on cementing their blueline's top pair for the foreseeable future, a few assets seem like a small price to ensure that Hamilton won't get the chance to change his mind.
And then there's the flat cap variable, which could put a wrinkle in everything, as well.
Thanks to a lost season of gate revenue and the resulting stagnant salary cap, wallets are tight around the league. That might not jive with what Hamilton, who sits in perhaps the most lucrative position of his career as it pertains to earning potential, is looking for. Players in their mid-to-late 20's typically seek that one giant mega-deal at this stage of their careers. Given the realities of the pandemic, however, that simply might not be there. There's a very good chance, then, that the Toronto native simply doesn't find the money he was looking for on the open market, therein giving the Hurricanes, as Friedman reports, a window to swoop in and make him the best offer.
Regardless of how this situation plays out, one thing is for sure: the Dougie Hamilton rumour mill won't be dying down any time soon. In fact, it has only just started.