Hamilton, Pesce Should be on Devils Trade Radar

Defenseman Dougie Hamilton has played for three different teams in his young career so far. (James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

Introduction

When looking to see if two teams are compatible with possible trades, the thing you look at is their needs. Luckily for the Devils, the Hurricanes have a surplus of right-handed defenseman and are rumored to want to move one. Luckily for the Hurricanes, they are looking for depth scoring, and that is something the Devils have in forward Marcus Johansson.

The Statistics

Dougie Hamilton

Dougie Hamilton is a 25-year-old defenseman who is on the third different team of his career. He is in the third year of a six-year $34.5 million contract, a cap hit that translates to $5.75 million a year. From a scoring outlook, Hamilton is usually a 40-point defenseman who is known for being rarely injured. So far this season, he has played in all 55 games, and in the past few years he’s played in all 82 twice and 81 the other season, all while playing around 19-21 minutes a night.

From an analytical perspective, Hamilton also checks out above average. He has a career Corsi For (CF%) of 55.4 percent, with an average of 57.2 percent in the past three seasons. Another good telling statistic of a defenseman is their relative Corsi (CF% Rel), which measures how much more efficient the team is with the said player on the ice. Hamilton owns a CF% Rel of +6.5 over the past three years, which is pretty impressive.

Below you can see a chart, courtesy of CJ Turtoro, that measures other important defensive analytics. When examining Hamilton’s shot contributions, you can see he’s one of the league’s best at generating shot attempts — this is also confirmed by the high CF% rating. His zone entry and exit statistics also show how efficient he is in this part of his game, as he ranks in the 86th and 69th percentiles. Zone exits are something the Devils struggle with on a consistent basis, and Hamilton would improve this instantly.

This chart is courtesy of CJ Turtoro (@CJTDevil on Twitter).

Brett Pesce

Brett Pesce is a 24-year-old defenseman who is in his fourth year as an NHL player. Fortunately for him, he just recently signed a six-year extension worth $4.025 million a year. If you look at his scoring statistics from his young career, you can deduct that he’s primarily a defensive-minded player. However, he is on pace to surpass his career high of 20 this year and total approximately 24 total points. What Pesce is known for is his willingness to block shots. He’ll end with well over 100 this year, and that’ll mark the third year of his career with 100 or more blocked shots.

From an analytical perspective, Pesce also impresses. He owns a career 53 CF% rating, which is a more than formidable. When examining the chart above, you can see he gives opponents fits when they try to enter the zone. This is evident by Pesce ranking in the 84th percentile in breakups, and the 78thpercentile of entries allowed. As a defenseman, this is an important attribute to have. When looking at his entry statistics you can see he is not shy about entering the zone himself, and he is usually very successful when he does. Regarding zone exits, Pesce is also very efficient, even though he does not do it very much.

Name CF% CF% REL PossEntry% PossExit% PossEntry% Allowed
Damon Severson 48.7 1.5 69thpercentile 69thpercentile 70thpercentile
Sami Vatanen 46.3 -1.3 47thpercentile 59thpercentile 59thpercentile
Ben Lovejoy 48.1 0.3 5thpercentile 7thpercentile 9thpercentile
Steven Santini 30.3 -5.5 13thpercentile 28thpercentile 58thpercentile
Dougie Hamilton 57.2 6.5 86thpercentile 69thpercentile 41stpercentile
Brett Pesce 54.0 0.8 86thpercentile 83rdpercentile 78thpercentile

Either one of these defensemen will instantly make the Devils defensive core better. Above is a chart that contains right-handed Devils defenseman now, and where each Hamilton and Pesce rank among them in certain important defensive categories. These statistics are an average of the past three seasons. As you can see, both Hamilton and Pesce outweigh the Devils defenseman heavily in almost every category. This just confirms either one of these skilled defensemen would be a major upgrade.

John Quenneville has not performed with the NHL club. (Team Shred Photography)

The Trade

Trading for either one of these defensemen is, of course, going to come with a price. An unknown Eastern Conference executive told Craig Custance of The Athletic: “I like Pesce. I think he’s a really good player. I bet him, Slavin, (Sebastian) Aho and (Andrei) Svechnikov are the guys they’re trying to hold on to.” This basically shows the Hurricanes are most likely going to want more for Pesce than Hamilton.

The Hurricanes have made it known they are looking for depth scoring, especially considering they made trade Micheal Ferland. If the Devils and Hurricanes were to make a trade that included one of these defensemen, look for Marcus Johansson to be involved. Also, keep in mind the Devils gave the ability to add a draft pick or two into the deal. With the recent trade of Brian Boyle and the upcoming trade deadline which can see general manager Ray Shero stockpile some more draft assets, adding draft assets is certainly doable. Below is a proposed deal for each defenseman that could get the job done.

For Hamilton: Marcus Johansson, John Quenneville, and NJD 2019 3rd round pick for Dougie Hamilton

For Pesce: Marcus Johansson, Drew Stafford, NSH 2019 2nd round pick, and NJD 2020 5th round pick for Brett Pesce

In the Hamilton deal, the Hurricanes would receive a top-six scoring threat in Marcus Johansson and a valuable 3rd round pick which that could be used to flip to gain another valuable player for their playoff run. They would also receive John Quenneville, who may be able to play some fourth-line minutes in case of an injury and may still be valued as a solid prospect by some.

In the Pesce deal, the only big difference is Drew Stafford, whose shootout presence can prove very valuable down the stretch. He can also be a nice depth forward in case of an injury. The substitution of a 2nd instead of a 3rd is due to the fact that it seems as if the Hurricanes value Pesce higher, the same goes with explaining the addition of a fifth-round pick.

Conclusion

Overall, either one of these defensemen would be a welcomed addition to a Devils roster whose defense is so weak. In doing so they’ll have to trade assets of value. However, with the looming trade deadline, Shero will have the ability to move draft selections without feeling the ill-effects.

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