FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - While the Calgary Flames are proud of their "C of Red" crowd, it's their blue-line that's now deeper than ever.
The Flames acquired defenceman Dougie Hamilton from the Boston Bruins on Friday for a first-round pick and two second-rounders. The 22-year-old bolsters a defence corps that already includes Mark Giordano, Kris Russell, T.J. Brodie, Dennis Wideman, Ladislav Smid and Deryk Engelland.
"I like that defence and I think it's critical to build your team from the defence out," general manager Brad Treliving said. "This is a player who fits where we're going in Calgary.
"This is not a deviation in terms of the young players that we're building around. To me he adds to it."
The 15th, 42nd and 57th picks in this NHL draft seemed a small price to pay for a strong puck-moving defenceman who hasn't yet reached his prime. Hamilton can now grow up alongside forwards Sam Bennett, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau.
The Toronto native is a restricted free agent who will likely command a salary north of US$5 million on a long-term deal. Bruins GM Don Sweeney said he made a "significant offer" to sign Hamilton, but a trade or offer sheet was likely to happen.
"I don't believe that Dougie would've been comfortable in Boston going forward for long-term," Sweeney said.
While the Bruins unloaded Hamilton and then left-winger Milan Lucic in another trade with the Los Angeles Kings, the Flames got stronger without giving up a player from their playoff roster.
Calgary has cashed in on enough prospects that giving up three draft picks still fit in with their long-term plan.
"We've got picks," Treliving said "We still got a second round pick.
"We've got six picks overall. Our cupboard is not bare."
Hamilton got an immediate welcome to the Flames in the form of a phone call from Giordano almost immediately after the trade.
"I'm excited to get to Calgary and meet the guys and start playing and enjoy playing in front of the fans," Hamilton said on a conference call. "It's going to be real exciting."
Treliving was excited to get Hamilton, although there's still work to be done. As of Friday night, he already had reached out to agent J.P. Barry and planned to speak with him later about a contract.
Without the salary-cap problems that plague the Bruins, the Flames should have no problem getting Hamilton signed. That's the easy part after coming away with such a young defenceman with sky-high potential.
"They're hard to find," Treliving said about players of Hamilton's age and skill level. "We coveted this player, knew we had to pay a price, and were prepared to do it."
The Bruins' ninth overall pick in 2011 has 22 goals and 61 assists in 178 NHL games. The six-foot-five Hamilton had a career-best 10 goals, 32 assists and 42 points this past season.