The LA Kings should go all in on Dougie Hamilton

Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /
1 of 3
LA Kings Dougie Hamilton
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Dougie Hamilton is the most coveted defenseman potentially hitting free agency this offseason. The LA Kings should make signing him their number one priority.

The LA Kings need to improve their team scoring this offseason – everyone knows that. They started that process last week by trading for winger Viktor Arvidsson from the Nashville Predators for two draft picks. It’s a start, and with over $12 million in salary-cap space, after they re-sign their own RFA’s, they need to continue adding players that can put the puck in the net.

The LA Kings are looking to add two top-six forwards and a “young, dynamic, left-shot defenseman” to the team (well, make that one top-six forward after the Arvidsson trade”). If they choose to add the top-six forward through free agency, Brandon Saad and Mike Hoffman will be the best available options, as Gabriel Landeskog, Alex Ovechkin, and Taylor Hall will probably be going back to their current teams.

Related Story. What the Kings should do post Viktor Arvidsson trade. light

They could also fill that need via trade, as Conor Garland, Sam Reinhart, and Vladimir Tarasenko have all popped up in the trade rumor mill as potential targets for the Kings.

The trade route could potentially get very expensive for LA, especially if they want someone like Reinhart. Even with all the turmoil in Buffalo, the twenty-five-year-old right-wing/center has been an outstanding performer for the Sabres.

In six full NHL seasons, he has scored at least 20 goals in five of them, and he was particularly great last season. Despite the disaster that was the Sabres season, in 54 games played, Reinhart had 25 goals to go with 15 assists, and this was playing without superstar center and linemate Jack Eichel for half of the season.

For the LA Kings to bring in a talent like Reinhart via trade will be very costly. He’s a young and proven talent in the NHL, even on a bad team. Rob Blake‘s offer will have to start with Alex Turcotte and then add prospects or draft picks to the package (let me say it loud and clear so the peeps in the back will hear, I am NOT suggesting the Kings should do this, I’m simply illustrating how expensive this could get).

On top of it all, Reinhart is now also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Simply put, he will want to get paid. Is a young proven talent like Reinhart worth the money? I would say he is, but to get him signed to a contract with enough years to keep him around long-term, the Kings will be looking at paying in the $8 million per season range for Mr. Reinhart’s services.

Sign him to a cheaper bridge contract, and the team risks losing him to unrestricted free agency in a few years when the salary cap will go up. Conor Garland’s new contract will not have nearly that high of a cap hit, and while Tarasenko has a $7.5 million cap hit, his contract has only this season and next left on it. Neither Garland nor Tarasenko will require the return of prospects and/or draft capital to acquire that Sam Reinhart will.

Don’t like the idea of giving up high-end prospects and/or draft picks in trades? Forget about trading for a top young, dynamic defenseman then. These types of defensemen are rare and even harder to find than high-scoring young forwards. The price for acquiring a Jakob Chychrun or Zach Werenski would be astronomical, with the package most likely being on par with the one it would take to get Sam Reinhart. Much like with the forwards, there could potentially be a young, dynamic defenseman that would be available for a lower price tag, but the idea here is to think big, right?

That leaves the LA Kings with one more option to put some pop back in the offense – an unrestricted free agent offensive-minded defenseman. There are two of those that should be available this offseason, and they are Tyson Barrie and Dougie Hamilton. While Barrie is coming off of a career season with Edmonton Oilers, the better long-term choice is Hamilton.

On the surface, Dougie Hamilton and the LA Kings do not seem to be a good match. After all, the Kings are looking for a left defenseman, and Hamilton has played on the right side for his entire career. The right side of the Kings’ defense appears to be set with Drew Doughty, Matt Roy, and Sean Walker.

They also have prospects like Sean Durzi, Austin Strand, Helge Grans, Jordan Spence, and Brock Faber, who will push for spots on that right side sooner or later. Why would the Kings need to spend a lot of money to bring in a high-profile right defenseman?