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Where does Dougie Hamilton fit on the Flames' blueline?

In which M&G takes a look at the potential defensive pairings available to the Flames for 2015-16.

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The signing of Dougie Hamilton is, without doubt, a huge coup for the Flames. Not only have they signed one of the best, most exciting, young defencemen in the league - they've signed a player that will make everyone who plays with him that much better, as Mike looked at on Friday.

So with that in mind, where exactly does he fit in the Flames' blueline? There are several options available that could be understandably used.

1. The Easy Option

Sticking With What We Know
Mark Giordano TJ Brodie
Kris Russell Dennis Wideman
Deryk Engelland Dougie Hamilton

The pairing of Giordano and Brodie was beloved last season, and it would be no surprise to see them remain together; and while Russell and Wideman were a possession tyre fire, they were also inseparable down the stretch. Indeed, they were essentially the number one pairing after Giordano was injured, so it would not be a surprise if Bob Hartley was to stick with them together as well.

Could Hamilton do what Brodie failed to do, and bring some good performances out of Engelland? You'd be tempted to believe if anybody could, it would be Dougie, but that's a very big gamble to take on a young, albeit very good hockey player.

To be honest, you could replace Engelland with any number of UFAs that the Flames may be looking at, including their own free agent David Schlemko. Engelland would be an expensive press box warmer, but a Schlemko/Hamilton partnership could easily be one of the best second pairings in the league.

2. The Playoff Option

An Upgrade On The Playoff Lines
Mark Giordano Dougie Hamilton
TJ Brodie Deryk Engelland
Kris Russell Dennis Wideman

Again, Engelland could be replaced by a UFA, but at least he has prior experience of playing with Brodie down the stretch after Giordano's injury.

Giordano's return immediately improves the defence, regardless of who he plays with. He was great with Brodie last year - imagine how good he'd be with Hamilton. There's a reason the Flames took the risk of trading for a pending RFA rather than waiting to put in an offer sheet - he's worth what he is asking for. Why pay $5.75 million for a defenceman if you don't put him with your other best defenceman?

Brodie would again be lumbered with Engelland, but if you were to replace Engelland with Schlemko, for example, his game would improve greatly as well. Alternatively, while a move for Cody Franson looked unlikely after the Hamilton trade, with his expected demands, rumours emerging on Monday night suggested the Flames may be interested in him. Obviously, he would be a great pickup to play alongside Brodie, or perhaps even Giordano.

If any of the above happens, Russell and Wideman would almost certainly be the bottom pairing, which despite career years for both of them, is probably where they best fit into the Flames' plans.

3. The New Option

A Complete Changing Of The Guard
Mark Giordano Dougie Hamilton
TJ Brodie Tyler Wotherspoon/Jakub Nakladal/A UFA
Kris Russell A UFA/Tyler Wotherspoon/Jakub Nakladal

When Brad Treliving said on Saturday that he'd tried to get back into the first round after trading the 15th pick as part of the Hamilton deal, rumours were rife that Dennis Wideman was being shopped around the floor. While nobody was willing to part with a first round pick, perhaps teams may consider other offers, such as filling the right wing void the Flames have at present.

That would give the Flames a bit of leeway as to their defensive options. They could re-sign Schlemko and go after another UFA, or they could pull the trigger on Tyler Wotherspoon and give him the chance to sink or swim, not to mention the recently-signed Jakub Nakladal. Again, the rumoured link to Franson could come into play. A lot is dependent on whether the front office thinks the Flames have enough options to be comfortable at the back.

Again, Hamilton and Giordano would be the top pairing, although you could swap Hamilton for Brodie and feel equally as comfortable.

In Summary

It's a lovely problem to have. Look back to the end of last season, when Russell and Wideman were the top pairing, Brodie was trying to dig Engelland out of holes and Schlemko was covering for a poor Corey Potter and a cold Wotherspoon. Now, there are at least four, if not five or six, defencemen on the roster that Bob Hartley has faith in starting on a regular basis.

Hamilton won't have come to Calgary to be a bit-part player. He's a superstar in the making, and will be treated as such. Who he plays with is very much up for debate, but he has instantly made the Flames' defence that much stronger.