The New Jersey Devils seem to have landed the big fish of the 2021 UFA class.
Dougie Hamilton, according to league insiders will agree to terms with the Devils when the market opens up at 12 p.m. ET. on Wednesday. This according to TSN Hockey Insider, Darren Dreger, who confirmed the news on TSN.
“All signs pointing to the New Jersey Devils,” Dreger said. “That’s been widely speculated I would say over the last couple of days anyway. You’re not going to get the New Jersey Devils at this stage–now inside an hour of our free agency opening at noon to confirm that. There’s been a lot of interest that has been established and shown interest towards Dougie, but things are really starting to elevate and heat up.
“Carolina continued to talk with (Hamilton) right up until yesterday as the door entirely closed there–it seems like it has and is most definitely going to the Devils. Again, we always leave a bit of wiggle room until you get to noon.”
Hamilton is likely to get max-term of seven-years with an average annual value of around $9 million or greater after other blueliners recently signed for similar figures last weekend–Seth Jones signing an eight-year deal with the Blackhawks that carries a $9.5 million AAV; Cale Makar re-upping with the Avalanche for a six-year, $9 million deal.
[UPDATE: Dougie Hamilton, according to reports, has signed a 7-year, $63 million contract with the Devils. It carries a $9 million cap hit.]
Hamilton, 28, is coming off a 55-game season in which the right-handed shooting defenseman netted 10 goals and 32 assists. The 2020-21 campaign was his seventh-straight season of scoring a double-digit goal total. In 607 NHL games, he’s scored 106 goals and 341 points. He’s also boasted strong plus/minus numbers in back-to-back seasons, posting a +30 in the abbreviated 2019-20 season and coming off a +20 season, both with Carolina.
He should help boost the Devils in multiple ways including on the blueline. The move should also help elevate a franchise that’s been spinning its wheels on a lengthy rebuild, having only made the postseason once since their 2012 run to the Stanley Cup Final. Devils GM, Tom Fitzgerald has said he’d like to try and add players to help the team improve–Hamilton will help there.
Another priority–completing the picture in net is also reportedly working to a solution, Pierre LeBrun reporting the Devils will sign goalie, Jonathan Bernier to a two-year deal at $4.125 million AAV. Bernier is coming off a three-year stint with the Red Wings. Last season he posted 9 wins in 21 decisions to go with a 2.99 GAA and a 0.914 save percentage.
Devils could still be active once both signings become official. New Jersey entered the day with the fourth-most cap space in the NHL.