Carolina Hurricanes: What the Return of Dougie Hamilton Means

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 24: Dougie Hamilton #19 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates after scoring a goal during game action between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 24, 2019, at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH. (Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 24: Dougie Hamilton #19 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates after scoring a goal during game action between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 24, 2019, at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH. (Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Carolina Hurricanes will have Dougie Hamilton back the next time the puck drops. But what does that mean for the team as a whole?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last several hours, then you’ve heard that the Carolina Hurricanes are getting back their all-star defenseman, Dougie Hamilton.

This is a huge gain for the team and probably the only good thing to come out of this hiatus. But what does that mean for the rest of the team? There are a few aspects to look at depending on if the season returns or is completely scrubbed for next season, an aspect favored mostly by Detroit Fans.

For now, there is no mistake, Dougie Hamilton will be back with Jaccob Slavin on the top pairing when the team returns to play.

If the season is over, then this is a non-story. We already knew that Hamilton was going to be ready for next season.

Don Waddell would have to manage the cap, but with guys like Trevor Van Riemsdyk, Sami Vatanen, and Joel Edmundson‘s contracts falling off the books along with Justin Faulk‘s retained salary and Patrick Marleau‘s buyout, there will be plenty of cap space. Add on the possibility of a compliance buyout and watch Don Waddell manage to even add another big name to the team.

But what if the season isn’t over? That complicates things a bit. Right now only Brett Pesce is on the LTIR. He has begun rehab, but won’t be available until next season whenever it begins. Sami Vatanen was supposed to return right before the season was put on hiatus, even after his small set back.

That leaves the Carolina Hurricanes with seven, maybe eight, healthy defenders and about $4 million above the cap limit.

To start it makes the Vatanen trade look very questionable. It also means that players like Morgan Geekie may not rejoin the team when and if the season returns.

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Now the use of LTIR, which Dougie has been on, is a complicated algorithm that I cannot begin to calculate when it comes to just how much above the Salary Cap the team is allowed to be on. Waddell is going to have to do some serious math to get this roster under the number and it may include putting Vatanen on the LTIR to get some more cap relief for the team.

But even that might not be enough, which might see some insane moves by the Hurricanes to try and stay under the Cap before the team is allowed to play. All you need to know is that the return of Dougie Hamilton and his $5,750,000 contract is giving someone in the Canes organization a lot of math homework.

So what about the actual roster? What will the defensive pairings look like? It is safe to say that the first pairing will automatically be Jaccob Slavin along with Dougie Hamilton. It worked so well, why mess it up? That leaves four slots for Brady Skjei, Joel Edmundson, TVR, Haydn Fleury, Jake Gardiner, and possibly Sami Vatanen.

Haydn Fleury is really the only name in that list that deserves to play on the second pairing. He has proven his value to the team and considering that he is still on his ELC, he is an easy pick to keep on the roster. I would pair him up with Skjei for a good offensive/defensive D-pairing.

Jake Gardiner has played well enough to earn a spot as well. If Vatanen is healthy and actually on the active roster when play returns, I would play him with Gardiner, if for nothing more than to recoup some of the value of that trade. If not, then a rotation between Edmundson and TVR is the only right answer.

For now, we can only hope that hockey comes back sooner or later and we can get some version of Hockey on our screens. It’s great to have Dougie Hamilton back. The problems the Hurricanes get with his return are good problems to have.

Question for CC Readers: What do you think the defensive pairings should look like when play resumes?

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