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Dougie Hamilton, $5 million dollar man?

Don Sweeney took the general manager training wheels off on Friday when he made a few moves that left Bruins’ fans collectively scratching their heads while waiting for some blockbuster transaction to follow. The blockbuster move never came. Well Adam McQuaid did re-sign a four year deal, but let’s just ignore that for now.

The Bruins traded restricted free agent defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames for Calgary’s first round pick and two second round picks in the draft. Hamilton is a young promising offensive defenseman that is almost guaranteed to sign a $6 million dollar contract. He is coming off an entry level contract and apparently wanted to sign upwards of $5 million to stay in Boston. Now if you take away the upside Hamilton supposedly has (remember he is only 22), would you think he is worth moving up from a $925,000/year entry level contract to a veteran defenseman salary? If the Bruins re-signed Hamilton to what is reportedly his number, he would have been between Zdeno Chara ($6.9 million) and Dennis Seidenberg ($4 million) on the payroll. Torey Krug signed an extension this past season that keeps him in Boston for another two years at $3.4 million. It’s called a bridge deal which makes a rookie, coming off his first NHL contract, earn his future lucrative pay raise while earning a bump in salary to stick around.

Hamilton didn’t have to sign a two year deal. He could have agreed to one year and then took it from there. Maybe he could have proved that he was worth the increase he’s looking for. But it sounds like his camp’s number was still between Seidenberg and Chara, who have a collective 32 NHL seasons between them.

There was an article calling Hamilton a “franchise player” for the Bruins. I have to politely disagree with that assessment. When the term “franchise player” comes to mind, I think of long time Bruin Patrice Bergeron as an example. Bergeron is the ultimate model of what a NHL player should be both on and off the ice. It’s still too early to tell if Hamilton is the next coming of Bobby Orr or even Ray Bourque. Maybe in 10 years, he will be a franchise player wherever he ends up. I think it is premature to use that term.

One player I would like to compare to Hamilton is his new teammate and former Bruin Dennis Wideman. Wideman, an offensive defenseman, signed a four year contract back in 2008 worth $15,750,000 (previous salary was $600,000 and first year of the new contract was $3.2 million). Note that number is similar to Krug’s extension. Wideman was traded to Calgary as a free agent in 2012 and signed a five year contract worth $26,250,000 (Base salary started at $2,926,829 the first year and bumps to $6,000,000 the final year of his contract. Cap hit is $5.25M). Now before you think that was an over payment for Wideman, he is one of Calgary’s top defenseman and put up good numbers last season (56 points in 80 games).He is also the highest paid Flames player at age 32. So here comes Hamilton, traded to Calgary like Wideman and is expecting Wideman money or more? Really?

Like other Bruins’ fans, I am eager to see the type of contract Hamilton signs with Calgary, if he even does. Remember, there is still a chance another team can submit an offer sheet to him. I don’t think the Bruins could (or would?) have matched an offer sheet had he remained Bruins’ property. I also have to believe Sweeney wanted draft picks this year instead of next year. This year’s draft was reportedly to be one of the best in over a decade. If Hamilton signs for what he’s looking for in length and money, fans might be thankful the Bruins didn’t bite the bullet. But if Hamilton does a bridge deal or takes less money, it will not be a good look for Sweeney and the organization that supposedly “gives up on young players.”

Stay tuned….