The New Jersey Devils entered the offseason with salary cap space to burn and they used a significant portion of it on Wednesday by signing free agent defenseman Dougie Hamilton to a massive seven-year, $63 million contract.
That comes out to a salary cap number of $9 million per season and is the biggest contract signed so far among unrestricted free agents.
Hamilton was the top free agent defenseman on the market (and one of the top players in general) and will bring a ton to the Devils defense. And while long-term contracts in free agency are generally massive risks, Hamilton is at least a bonafide top-pairing defender and one of the best players in the league at his position. He is an elite possession driver that can also score a ton from the blue line while playing in every situation. He is a 15-goal, 45-point player over an 82-game season.
Given that his contract is smaller, both in term and average annual value than the contract signed by Seth Jones, is a pretty big win for the Devils given that Hamilton is the better player.
[Related: Every free agent signing by all 32 NHL teams]
He has played a Norris Trophy level the past two seasons, finishing seventh and fourth in the voting respectively. Had he not missed so much of the 2019-20 season due to injury he would have almost certainly been higher in that voting.
Hamilton is the second significant addition to the Devils defense this offseason after the team previous acquired Ryan Graves from the Colorado Avalanche.
The Devils defense in the short-term will now feature Hamilton, Graves, P.K. Subban (final year of his contract), Will Butcher, Damon Severson, Ty Smith, and Jonas Siegenthaler, all playing in front of Mackenzie Blackwood and Jonathan Bernier (also signed on Wednesday) in net.
In related news, the Devils also traded Will Butcher to the Sabres.
#NEWS: We have traded Will Butcher and a 2022 5th round pick to Buffalo in return for future considerations.
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) July 28, 2021