Last week, word came out that contract extension talks had cooled between the Hurricanes and RFA winger Andrei Svechnikov. Now, it appears that this isn’t the only stalled contract negotiation Carolina has with a pending free agent as Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic reports (subscription link) that this is also the case with defenseman Dougie Hamilton with talks basically being nonexistent for the past month.
The 27-year-old is off to a bit of a quieter start to his season compared to 2019-20 but has still made an impact offensively with 14 points in 22 games. Of course, he also contributes in his own end and is once again logging heavy minutes, averaging over 22 minutes per game. These are top-pairing numbers, something that his agent J.P. Barry has surely communicated to Carolina GM Don Waddell.
LeBrun suggests that Hamilton’s camp is likely going to want to use Alex Pietrangelo’s deal signed in the fall ($8.8MM AAV) as a valid comparable with an asking price coming in a bit below that. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes may view Pietrangelo’s replacement in Torey Krug ($6.5MM AAV) as a better starting point.
That’s a considerable gap to try to bridge if those are indeed the numbers being suggested which is why LeBrun wonders if this could be a situation that doesn’t get resolved until closer to the July 28th opening of unrestricted free agency. While that strategy has worked before, it also didn’t with St. Louis and Pietrangelo just last year and Hamilton will be in a similar situation as the top blueliner available on the open market. As we saw last year, even in this environment, the top free agents have still been able to command a significant contract and there’s no reason to think that this won’t be the case here.
With more than four months between now and the market opening up, there’s still plenty of time to get something done and with expansion pending, delaying things isn’t necessarily the worst idea. Given his status, Hamilton is a strong candidate to land a no-move clause on his next deal and if it was to be signed before Seattle’s team is selected, he’d become a mandatory protected player while if they wait, it’s easier to leave a pending unrestricted free agent unprotected, allowing them to keep an extra player. It’s not without its risks though as the Kraken would get an exclusive negotiating period and the closer someone gets to free agency, the temptation to test the market likely grows. That’s one of the decisions that will be weighing on Waddell in the weeks and months ahead.