The Carolina Hurricanes made their big splash at the NHL draft and sent a message to their dressing room at the same time, trading former top-five draft picks Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin to the Calgary Flames for 6-foot-6, two-way defenseman Dougie Hamilton, big winger Micheal Ferland and prospect defenseman Adam Fox on Saturday.
Lindholm and Hanifin, both restricted free agents with enormous potential who had not, to this point, lived up to their lofty draft positions, were traded after they rejected the team's contract offers this weekend and will be reunited with former Hurricanes coach Bill Peters in Calgary.
The Hurricanes came into draft weekend wanting to shake up their roster, and while Jeff Skinner was the player most likely to be moved -- and still could -- the breakdowns in negotiations with the restricted free agents opened the door to the first big move of Tom Dundon's tenure as owner. Combined with the addition of Friday's second overall draft pick, Andrei Svechnikov, the remaking of the franchise is in full flight.
So exit two players once seen as essential pieces of the franchise's foundation, and enter an elite offensive defenseman and the kind of menacing forward the Hurricanes have lacked in recent years. The message: No one is safe from being traded, especially those whose contract demands may not be justified by their performance so far.
The Hurricanes and Flames had talked about a potential Lindholm deal for some time, but this deal didn't start to coalesce until late Friday night when its scope started to expand and didn't stop until it was the biggest trade of the draft.
“Hamilton is one of the premier offensive players as a defenseman in the league,” Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said. “We all know goal-scoring is at a premium in the league so we felt that was a huge addition for our blue line. We've talked for a while that we have a lot of skilled pieces up front but we need a little size and muscle up front. Obviously Ferland fit that bill pretty well for us. That was a big piece for us. And Adam Fox, we're really high on him.”
Hamilton, a 25-year-old elite right-sided defenseman, has three years left on a contract that pays him $5.75 million and has recorded more than 40 points in each of the past four seasons. He's gone from Boston to Calgary to Carolina in his young career, but Waddell said the Hurricanes had "no issues at all" about how he might fit into their group.
"We did our homework on this," Waddell said.
Hamilton said he had gone out for a workout Saturday, then was watching TV coverage of the draft when he learned he was no longer with the Flames.
"I saw the guys talking about breaking news and there's a trade and there was my name that popped up," he said. "That's where I found out. It's a weird feeling. ... But I'm excited."
His arrival not only jump-starts the Hurricanes' offense but opens the door to a potential Justin Faulk trade. The Hurricanes were leery of replacing Faulk's minutes on the right side, but Hamilton is more than capable of handling the workload along with Brett Pesce and has recorded more than 40 points in each of the past four seasons.
The 26-year-old Ferland is a powerful 6-foot-2, 209 pounds and can play on either wing. He particularly excelled in Calgary at playing alongside the Flames' smaller, skill players, scoring 21 goals last season. Ferland has one year to run on his $1.75 million contract.
"On the ice he's just so talented at everything," Hamilton said. "He's a big body and he's got a really good shot. He's smart and really skilled, especially for his size. Everyone who has played with him or against him knows how hard he can hit and how physical and tough he is. I'm excited to have him on our team again."
Fox, a third-round pick by the Flames in 2016, is a highly rated right-shot defenseman headed back to Harvard next season and will attend the Hurricanes' development camp in Raleigh next week.
Earlier Saturday, the Hurricanes used their second-round draft pick, 42nd overall, to take a future Harvard player with a famous NHL name -- Jack Drury, son of Ted and nephew of Chris. That, along with Colorado's selection of Raleigh's Tyler Weiss, looked like the day's biggest news until the Canes pulled the trigger on the trade in the middle of the fifth round.
They're almost certainly not done. Skinner is still out there. A Faulk trade is newly feasible. And the Hurricanes still need a goalie after losing out on Philipp Grubauer this weekend. They made their first big move Saturday, but it's just the beginning.
“It gives us some options as we sit here today to look at anything,” Waddell said. “We came into this weekend talking if we could do something to make our hockey club better we would look at it. We weren't worried as much about the position as gaining the assets. We have a lot of other possible pieces to move around. We wanted to acquire the best players we could and then we'll let the rest shake out as we move forward.”
Sports columnist Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock