Two years ago, Brad Treliving acquired Dougie Hamilton at the draft. On Saturday, he picked up Travis Hamonic from the New York Islanders.
Those are two moves that have significantly helped the Flames build a formidable top-four defense in the Western Conference, and it’s already been suggested it could be in the conversation with Nashville’s group that includes Ryan Ellis, P.K. Subban, Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm.
Yes, the Flames paid a price — first and second-round picks in next year’s NHL Draft and a second-round pick in either the 2019 or 2020 NHL Draft.
But after making the playoffs this season and then making a recent trade with Arizona to acquire goalie Mike Smith, the Flames seem to feel they’re in their window to win now. Today’s move further solidifies that notion.
“You’ve got to give to get,” said Treliving, the Flames general manager, of the Hamonic deal. “You hate paying the price. But we looked at a lot of things: We looked at the makeup of our team, where he fits. He’s a right shot. We think he fits in real good with our team.
“I like the looks of our top-four. He moves pucks. He’s a character kid. He’s got some bite to him.”
The Flames now have their top four defensemen locked into contracts through at least 2020, which was one of the important factors in acquiring Hamonic, according to Treliving. Mark Giordano, who turns 34 in October, is signed through 2022 and Hamilton is signed through 2021.
Treliving lauded the puck-moving ability of Giordano, Hamilton and T.J. Brodie — who combined for 31 goals and 125 points, led by Hamilton’s 13-goal, 50-point campaign. But, he said, the move to acquire Hamonic brings added toughness and versatility into the group.
“He checks a lot of boxes for us,” he said. “I think you build up through the middle. This, to me, solidifies our defense. I like our center ice position. There’s depth there and we’ll keep tweaking at it, but I like the looks of that defense.”
As a result of injuries, Hamonic played in only 49 games last season.
With the way Hamonic plays, Treliving admitted there may be greater risk for injury, but the Flames don’t have any concerns about that heading into next season.
The Flames also have some young, up-and-coming defensemen in their system, most notably 20-year-old prospect Oliver Kylington, who fell to 60th overall in 2015, even though there was talk he could be a first-round pick.
“I think we’ve got some young kids coming. It allows them to progress and develop at their own timeline,” said Treliving. “But you can never have enough defensemen. You can never have enough top defensemen.”