Dougie Hamilton headlines the defensive free-agent market. The question is, should the LA Kings make a run for the 27-year-old?
There’s no question that the right side of the LA Kings defense is crowded. Still, when a player like Dougie Hamilton becomes available, especially without giving up any assets, you have to consider it. The former ninth overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft has consistently been a point-producer along the blue line since entering the league.
While the Carolina Hurricanes would obviously like Hamilton to return next season, he’s also been given permission to speak to other teams ahead of the July 28 free agency period. The purpose is aimed more for a sign and trade, which the Kings likely aren’t interested in.
During the 2021 season, the almost 28-year-old potted ten goals with 32 assists for 42 points in 55 games. He also had two goals with 16 assists on the man advantage. He doesn’t shoot the puck a lot – 5.7 percent during his career, to be exact – but that hasn’t stopped him from scoring at least ten goals in seven consecutive seasons.
Hamilton is an ELITE puck possession defenseman, with a dazzling 55.6 CorsiFor percentage and a ridiculous 58.1 CF% during the 2018-19 season.
Back to the LA Kings roster.
With Drew Doughty, Matt Roy, and Sean Walker occupying the three spots along the right side, something has to give. Doughty and Roy are locked up long-term, with the latter recently signing a contract extension. Walker is signed for three more seasons, but he comes at just a $2.65M AAV– a team-friendly contract and moveable if needed.
If the Kings were to add Dougie Hamilton in free agency, Walker would be the odd man out, with Matt Roy shifting down to the third pairing. That’s quite a formidable right side of the defense.
Added, Hamilton had a positive impact on Jaccob Slavin this past season as well, with the latter accounting for a 50.9 xGF% without the former. Hamilton, alone, accounted for an absurd 59.5 xGF%. Together, the Hurricanes pairing accounted for a 57.2% xGF%.
For what it’s worth, Evolving Hockey projects Hamilton to fetch a seven-year contract at an $8.5M AAV. That’s quite the financial commitment, especially considering the Kings are still on the hook for Doughty at an $11M AAV through the 2026-27 season.
I think the Kings would be more comfortable with a bridge contract in the range of three-to-four years, giving their young blueliners in Brock Faber, Helge Grans, and Jordan Spence additional time to develop. That’s another important aspect that needs to be considered if Hamilton were to be inked to a deal. The Kings cannot block the right side of their defense.
At any rate, the potential contract is food for thought, one that should be a snack rather than a Thanksgiving meal if you are the LA Kings.