First, there was the big trade.
Then, the big contract.
Now? The big expectations.
That’s what d-man Dougie Hamilton faces this season, his first in Calgary, after this summer’s blockbuster move from Boston and his subsequent contract — all six years and $34.5 million of it.
“I think the expectations are going to be higher,” Hamilton admitted earlier this summer, per the Calgary Sun. “But I think in Boston there’s a lot of scrutiny from fans and expectations for me when I came in, being a top-10 pick.
“I think I handled that fine and think it’ll be the same here, just have fun and play my game.”
Though the Flames and GM Brad Treliving have been quick to classify the 22-year-old Hamilton as an “emerging talent” and remind everyone he’s still young, there will be pressure on Hamilton produce, probably more than the 10 goals and 42 points he notched in Boston last year (which, by most measures, was a pretty productive season.)
There’s also that price tag.
At $5.75 million, Hamilton will be the highest-paid Flame — at least in terms of cap hit — next season. That’s ahead of a slew of older, more experienced veterans, including captain and team leader Mark Giordano (who, it must be mentioned, needs a new deal himself) and last year’s leading scorer, Jiri Hudler.
As for other challenges? Oh, you know: Develop rapport with a different defensive partner, get comfortable in new surroundings, make the switch from Eastern to Western Conference and establish a relationship with a fairly demanding head coach. Stuff that most veteran players would find overwhelming, let alone a guy with less than 200 NHL games on his resume.
Which is probably why Hamilton, like Treliving, also trying to temper expectations.
“You can’t really put too much pressure on yourself, better to just do your best and try to be as consistent as you can,” he explained. “It’s interesting. I’m still 22 and there’s a long future ahead, so I think there’s a lot of development.
“I think I have that ceiling that hasn’t been hit and hopefully do my best to reach my potential.”