Geek of the Week: Don’t Expect A Huge Change From Dougie Hamilton

by Scott Maran on June 24, 2018
  • Geek of the Week
  • Geek of the Week: Don’t Expect A Huge Change From Dougie Hamilton


It’s no secret that Dougie Hamilton is a top defenseman in the NHL and the fantasy hockey world. He’s been providing top fantasy value for several years now and, though he’s not usually thought of as an elite fantasy asset, ranks among the top skaters in value. But with Hamilton on the move from the Calgary Flames, what kind of change in value can we expect from the 25-year-old defender? I’m here to argue not much, as I think Hamilton will provided very similar value on the Carolina Hurricanes as he has on the Flames.

Drafted ninth overall by the Boston Bruins, Hamilton has been producing offense ever since he’s entered the NHL. As a 19-year-old rookie he scored at a 32-point pace and hit his first 40+ point season in only his third NHL season. Hamilton’s been a consistent premier offensive defenseman for the past few years now and has four consecutive 40+ point seasons under his belt. I actually wrote about his excellent value almost two years ago and that still stands true today. Despite his less-than-ideal start to the season (16 points in his first 40 games), Hamilton still provided tons of fantasy value. According to our Fantasy Hockey Geek tool, Hamilton was ranked as the 41st most valuable skater (using an average 12-team Yahoo league measuring goals, assists, shots on goal, power-play points, and hits as a template).
 

 

Rank

FHG Value

GP

G

A

SOG

PPP

HITS

Rickard Rakell

40

43

76

34

35

225

18

113

Dougie Hamilton

41

41

82

17

27

270

12

83

Vladimir Tarasenko

42

40

79

32

32

301

16

88


Last season, Hamilton provided more value than other big names such as Vladimir Tarasenko, Johnny Gaudreau, and Anze Kopitar. He scored the most goals out of all defensemen, while his 44 points were tied for the 21st most by any defender. His 270 shots were the second most by a defender (behind only Brent Burns) and was the 14th most out of all players. His 83 hits aren’t as impressive but they’re good enough to provide some value, in sharp contrast to players such as Keith Yandle or Tyson Barrie (who scored more points but registered less than 50 total hits each).

Just from looking at last season we see that Hamilton is a top defender a fantasy owner can own. He’s almost guaranteed to come in the top 20 in points by a defender (ranking 17th overall in total points over the last three seasons combined) and finish as one of the highest goal scoring defenseman (sixth overall in total goals over the same timeframe). Besides points, Hamilton is also a beast when it comes to peripherals, dominating in shots on goal and performing well enough across the board in the rest of the categories.  We didn’t even include penalty minutes in our previous discussion (where Hamilton once again does very well).

This shouldn’t change, as Hamilton is still a very talented hockey player. The problem is that there aren’t many ways Hamilton can increase his fantasy value from where it’s already at. He’s pretty much maxed out his goal totals (expecting him to score more goals would be asking too much) and his peripherals are already very strong. His shots-on-goal totals are already some of the highest amongst defensemen, so we shouldn’t hope for Hamilton to be able to increase his shots on goal.

If Hamilton were to see his fantasy value increase, the cause of it would have to lie in his assist totals. The issue is though that moving to the Hurricanes doesn’t help Hamilton accomplish this, as Hamilton most likely won’t be seeing any big change in usage that would favor an uptick in assists. Nor does he move to a stronger offensive team, as both the Hurricanes and the Flames ranked in the bottom 10 in goal scoring last season. There is the possibility that Hamilton naturally starts scoring more (which I wouldn’t rule out), but if that does happen it probably would have happened on the Flames too.

With Calgary, Hamilton was seeing an average of 18:22 of even-strength ice time and 2:40 of power play time. Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie both saw more even-strength ice time than him and Giordano averaged much more power play time (getting over three minutes per game). With the roster the way it is now, Hamilton appears to be entering a very similar setup on the Hurricanes, where he will be given the third-most even-strength ice time and once again only see the second-most power play time. If anything, his power play time is actually at risk of decreasing with Carolina.

Justin Faulk and Jaccob Slavin averaged the most even-strength ice time out of all Hurricane defenders, averaging 18:48 and 19:22 per game respectively. Even if the Hurricanes take a little even-strength time away from Faulk, Hamilton will likely wind up right around his previous average with the Flames. Noah Hanifin (the defender the Hurricanes traded to land Hamilton) only averaged 17 minutes of even-strength ice time, so it’s not like there’s a lot of available even-strength ice time for Hamilton to take.

Also, the Hurricanes have a power-play structure similar to the Flames, where one defenseman takes a bulk of the power-play time on the first unit. In Calgary, this was Giordano, while in Carolina this is Faulk. Things would be dramatically different for Hamilton if Faulk were traded, but him remaining on the club immensely hurts Hamilton’s value. Faulk has proven to be an excellent power-play performer and there’s little reason to believe the Hurricanes will move him from the first unit for Hamilton. If the Hurricanes really want to trade Faulk, it would make more sense to keep him on the first unit to inflate his point totals to boost his trade value.

At least on the Flames, Hamilton was averaging 2:40 minutes of power-play time per game. On the Hurricanes last season, Faulk had the highest average power-play time out of all defenders (around three minutes per game), where the second-highest defender (Noah Hanifin) only averaged 1:48 per game with the man advantage. If Hamilton were to get the same deployment as Hanifin when he arrives in Carolina, he might even see a drop in power-play time.

Overall, I think Hamilton will be just fine in Carolina. Faulk’s continued presence is a little concerning, but Hamilton will find a way to eat up some of his power-play time. Faulk had a down year last season and, with the Hurricanes looking to move on from him, the team might be much more willing to let Hamilton take the reigns on the first unit. But while Dobber foresees a nice jump in production in store for Hamilton, I don’t know if I’m as confident it will happen. I’ve been riding the Hamilton hype train for a long time (my first ever Geek of the Week article was written about his underrated value) but the trade to the Hurricanes doesn’t look like it helps him. It doesn’t look like his usage will be very different, so it’s hard to expect an even bigger breakout from Hamilton, especially considering that he’s already performing at such a high level. Hope that he has it in him to naturally increase his assist totals, but draft him expecting the averages we’ve seen from him over the last few years.

 

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