BOSTON (CBS) — Everyone knows that Don Sweeney inherited a heck of a salary cap problem when he took over for Peter Chiarelli as general manager of the Boston Bruins. And Sweeney’s first big hurdle toward figuring out the roster will come this summer in the form of Dougie Hamilton.
The 21-year-old defenseman and top draft pick is a restricted free agent, and TSN’s Darren Dreger said on TSN Radio (via The Score) that Hamilton will be looking to make top dollar. That desire, combined with the Bruins’ cap restrictions, could result in a rival team making an offer sheet for the RFA.
“His agents (CAA Sports) are looking at something that’s going to probably mirror [Alex] Pietrangelo or [Drew] Doughty,” Dreger said. “So upwards of $6, $6.5, &7 million dollars per year. I’m not saying that he doesn’t deserve that. In fact, I think he’s a very good defenseman. I think Boston would love to keep him, ut there’s a salary cap issue, as we know, in Boston. And if you’re a rival team, why wouldn’t you try? Why wouldn’t you try?
“You’d give up, I think it’s three first-round picks, given the level of financial compensation. So it’s a steep, steep price. But, I know the Bruins brought him in, and they have high hopes of him some day taking over for Zdeno Chara. At least that was the view of Peter Chiarelli when he was the general manager in Boston. But Dougie Hamilton could be the poster boy for that sort of scenario. Not saying it’s going to happen, of course, but offer sheets in offseason are always tempting.”
The Bruins drafted Hamilton with the ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft. He’s played three NHL seasons, and he’s coming off a 2014-15 campaign in which he scored 10 goals and registered 32 assists in 72 games played.
He led Bruins defensemen in points, and he was third in time on ice per game (21:20), behind Zdeno Chara (23:20) and Dennis Seidenberg (22:06).
Hamilton also has 10 points in 19 career playoff games.
He previously carried a cap hit under $1.5 million, so the numbers mentioned by Dreger obviously represent a steep increase in pay. Figuring out how to sign Hamilton while still managing the rest of the roster will likely become Sweeney’s No. 1 priority.