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Dougie Hamilton's season by the numbers

Emotions are high right now as Brad Treliving shocked the hockey world by acquiring RFA defenseman Dougie Hamilton from the Boston Bruins. Let's take a look at why Hamilton was so widely coveted.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

It's hard to comprehend. The trade is too real, and it embodies everything about the criticisms the Calgary Flames faced this year. The much-talked about issues with possession, being out-shot, out-chanced, and riding questionably sustainable play dogged them. Despite that, they did in fact make it to the second round of the playoffs. Away from the maligning and broken narrative of the Calgary Flames "needing to get bigger" is a much clearer story:

The Flames needed to improve their blueline and possession woes this summer.

General manager Brad Treliving addressed the necessity of improving offensive zone time at the end of the season. This is one way of doing it; in fact, it's an excellent method of attempting to fix it. Given the cap space, given the opportunity, paying Hamilton what he justly earned makes sense.

Here is a high-level view of Hamilton and how, with his former teammates, he does provide a positive impact, sorted by CF%:

Presumably, this is farewell to the Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell pairing. We can say hello to Dougie Hamilton with whoever is fortunate to play with him. Which brings us to the first point: what kind of impact can Hamilton make on his teammates?

Courtesy of Ryan Lambert (@TwoLinePass)

  • Boston was already a very capable possession team with the likes of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and more. What's incredibly telling about about ALL of this is the immediate impacts of CF%. No one shown above with adequate sample saw a regression or a dip in possession.
  • This is such an immaculate ability in creating chances and making his peers around him better. All the better when the rumored ask of $5.5M AAV is such a steal for this level of impact from a 22-year-old.
  • Players like Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg (who are regressing to due age and injuries) became above average possession players. In Daniel Paille's case, his play with Hamilton made him a nearly capable depth forward.
  • If someone as young as Hamilton can take the husks and shells of guys like Chara and Seidenberg and make them look capable again, then what else can he do?
  • As you can see above, pretty stellar progress for his age. There is no denying that he is capable, if not more than capable, of a top four role. The ability to generate shot attempts (CF/60 and FF/60) is at a top pairing level, something direly needed for the Flames.
  • Shot suppression - as detailed in the third set of bars - is by far the most important thing that plagued the team this past season. The ability to suppress shot attempts by means of not physically blocking them, but by using skill trumps what Kris Russell does by miles.
  • Finally, individual scoring rates. As a defenseman, for his age and what he is capable of, this is purely breathtaking. His 22 even strength points (three goals, 19 assists) were tops on the Bruins this year. 52.4% of his total points came at even strength, a huge plus to consider. His 259 iCF events at ES were second on the Bruins to Torey Krug as well. The offense is there, the skill is there, and the future is so bright.

This visual shown above is a little different than we're used to. The basis of this graph is to plot the year and measure the impact a player has on his linemates. The highlighted circle is from this season, indicating that Hamilton had a positive impact on his linemates. The year prior, we saw Hamilton providing a strong impact on "better D" (shot attempt suppression), but a slight detraction of shot attempts for.

What we can gather from this is a large improvement from 2013-14 to 2014-15. An elevated role with the Bruins saw Hamilton become more of a focal point in the Boston defense.

If we look at a three year plot of where Dougie started and where he is going, then this is it. The top graph reiterates much of the data throughout this post: Hamilton is a positive impact both offensively and defensively. Hamilton, by himself, is the graph plotted in red.

We can see clearly that he has moved from being a positive impact defensively, while diminishing a bit of offense, to moving to the edge of being all-round in many regards. The fact that he can perform at this level - and there is still room to grow - can be considered an upside. You can only expect the chart in red to improve year by year.

Finally, let's take a really basic look at how Hamilton compared against his colleagues on the Bruins' blueline at ES:

Before we get into breaking down the graph, here is how to read it if you're not familiar with it.

  • Red = bad, blue = good. It determines the relative CF%.
  • Towards the top indicates more TOI against top competition (ex: Sean Monahan, Mark Giordano).
  • Further to the left as opposed to the right indicates more defensive zones versus offensive zone starts.
  • Circle size indicate the total TOI for a player (larger indicating more TOI).

From this we can gather a few obvious things: first and foremost, Chara and Hamilton played in some of the toughest scenarios. Seidenberg saw the toughest starts, moderate TOI/60 against top competition, and struggled compared to Hamilton.

Kevan Miller, newly re-signed Adam McQuaid, and UFA Matt Bartkowski saw vaguely similar zone starts. However, the key here is their struggles in CF%, especially with their TOI against competition. The anomaly to the far right is Torey Krug, who was a great shot attempt generator but saw padded starts, and very soft competition relative to his teammates.

So, with all this data presented, it becomes very clear that the Calgary Flames got a great defenseman. To really frame things and put it in perspective: We know Chara saw a boost in his CF% (as shown in Lambert's graph) when with Hamilton. Think of it like Lance Bouma when playing with Mikael Backlund. Hamilton is Backlund, Chara is Bouma.

That is to say, Dougie is very, very good. Welcome to Calgary.