Dougie Hamilton (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton is heading for restricted free agency, but could still get a major raise should a team ink him to an offer sheet this summer. Hamilton is next in line for the spot as the Bruins’ top blueliner, so it will be key for Boston to keep him. Elsewhere, the Canadiens need cap space and the Rangers may consider moving Keith Yandle.
Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton is coming off an entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights, but that might not prevent him from getting a significant raise this summer. The Bruins limited cap space for 2015-16 and the lack of depth in this summer's UFA pool could see the 21-year-old blueliner receiving a lucrative offer sheet from a rival club.
The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa speculates the Hamilton camp could use the threat of an offer sheet as leverage in contract discussions with the Bruins. He suggests a team like the Edmonton Oilers, who are deep in young talent but lacking skilled blueline depth, might be willing to sacrifice a compensation package of draft picks to successfully sign Hamilton away from the Bruins.
It's possible Hamilton could receive a multi-year offer in the range of $6-7 million annually. CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty believes the Bruins could be in real trouble if they commit that much to retain Hamilton. If they don't match, they'll receive draft picks as compensation. To avoid this, Haggerty wonders if they'll consider trading Hamilton. He feels there would be “a bunch of teams,” including the Columbus Blue Jackets, who could be interested in the young rearguard.
While Hamilton could receive an expensive offer sheet, it's not an eventuality. If his preference is to remain a Bruin, his agent could put the word out to rival clubs not to waste their time.
Hamilton is also considered the heir apparent to aging Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. It's doubtful Bruins management will trade the promising young defenseman over fears of an offer sheet.
CANADIENS NEED TO FREE UP CAP SPACE
After re-signing defenseman Jeff Petry last week to a lucrative long-term contract, Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin now has over $64 million invested in 18 players for 2015-16. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman thinks Bergevin might need to make a “money-out” trade to free up some room for other moves.
Friedman also wonders if it's possible for the Canadiens to swing a deal for Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu. He feels the 32-year-old Koivu could be the kind of player to address the Habs offensive needs.
That move, however, seems unlikely. Koivu's contract (three more seasons at an annual cap hit of $6.75 million) is a significant stumbling block. The Wild, who also have cap issues, would have to back salary from the Canadiens. More importantly, Koivu seems to be on the downside of his career. He would be an expensive gamble on Bergevin's part.
YANDLE OUT IN NEW YORK?
The Blueshirts parted with their 2016 first-round pick and top prospect Anthony Duclair as part of the return to acquire Yandle from the Arizona Coyotes before the trade deadline. Brooks feels the 28-year-old blueliner's performance with the Rangers didn't justify what they gave up to get him.
Yandle becomes eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. Given the Rangers' limited cap space and how much they have invested in blueliners Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal, Brooks believes the time to move Yandle is now. He wonders if packaging the defenseman with backup goalie Cam Talbot might land a strong, grinding forward who can get to the net in the playoffs.
It will be interesting to see if Rangers management believes Yandle is worth keeping for another season. He was acquired to bolster their chances for another run at the Stanley Cup final. Though the Rangers came up short this year, they could retain him if they feel they still have a shot in 2016. It could depend upon how much cap space remains after re-signing Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin and what other areas they feel must be addressed.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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