New Jersey Devils: 3 Pros and 2 Cons For Signing Dougie Hamilton

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton (19) has his stick taped for Pride Night against the Tampa Bay Lightning at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton (19) has his stick taped for Pride Night against the Tampa Bay Lightning at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /
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Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton (19): (James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports) /

Pro #3: Hamilton completely changes the timeline

Maybe this is a move that would come too early in the rebuild, but right-handed defensemen of Hamilton’s caliber don’t become available every year. In fact, he’s already the best defenseman in the 2022 free agency class. If the Devils don’t sign a player like Hamilton, they have to pray they can take a chance on another star defenseman or trade for someone who hasn’t hit their stride yet and hope they will.

Hamilton might make this team a playoff contender as soon as next year. Some other things need to happen, but to just be in the playoff race would be important for the Devils. Obviously, the Devils would also need peak Mackenzie Blackwood and peak performance from other players, but with Hamilton taking that top-line defensive spot anything is possible.

Then, the Devils can continue to build. Once they know what type of extension they are getting with Jack Hughes, then they can make moves to fill the rest of their roster. So in two seasons, they could make this team actually pretty good.

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Right now, the timeline looks like it’s still three years from true playoff contention. There’s nothing on this roster now that makes it seem like they can compete next season. Crazier things have happened, but it just doesn’t seem likely with the roster as currently constructed. Adding Hamilton changes that, and it changes how the Devils are looked at around the league. Expectations would change and what the owners will accept will change. Ray Shero was fired because he went all in and it failed miserably. So, if Tom Fitzgerald does the same thing, he knows the risk he is taking, and he will act accordingly.