New Jersey Devils agree to seven-year, $63 million deal with star defenseman Dougie Hamilton

The team announced Wednesday that the New Jersey Devils had reached an agreement with Dougie Hamilton, a free-agent defenseman.Hamilton, one the most prominent players in this class of free-agents, signed a seven year, $63 Million deal with an average annual value of $9 million.Sources close to the team claim that Devils ownership supported general manager Tom Fitzgerald’s decision to spend money this summer. They wanted to demonstrate a commitment towards improvement so that the team could continue to play meaningful games at the end. In eight of their nine previous seasons, the Devils missed the playoffs.Hamilton, 28 years old, scored 10 goals and 42 points for the Carolina Hurricanes last season, which advanced to the second round in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He is a big player (6-foot-6 and 227 pounds), with the offensive game and size to be a No. He is the league's number one blueliner and can contribute to the best power-play unit. This is a valuable asset that New Jersey has as it continues to rebuild.The Devils were largely characterized by youth and inexperience on their blue line last season. Three defensemen have been added to the team, including Jonas Siegenthaler (acquired through a trade from Washington) as well as Ryan Graves (acquired via a trade form Colorado earlier this month). Hamilton should be at the top of the depth charts, having just completed a six-year contract that had a maximum cap hit of $5.75million per season. New Jersey has ex-All-Star P.K. Subban is on the roster for a heavy $9 million, but the veteran only has one year left on his deal.Hamilton is now part of the core group that the Devils are trying to build around. This group includes captain Nico Hischier (22); center Jack Hughes (20); goalie Mackenzie Blackwood (24); and defenseman Ty Smith (21). The collection will soon include Luke Hughes, the younger brother to Jack who was selected No. Last week, the NHL draft ranked 4th overall.Since 2018, New Jersey has never made it to the postseason. It lost the first round to Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018. Hamilton, who has also played for the Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames and New Jersey, has playoff experience, giving New Jersey the kind of star power that other clubs in its region and division have.The Devils signed Hamilton and traded Will Butcher to Buffalo Sabres in exchange for future considerations. This was because the right side of their blue line became too crowded.Hamilton was eighth among defensemen in scoring this season. Hamilton has been an analytics darling for years, pushing play and helping to dominate puck possession. Hamilton is second in defensemen with 52.3 goals expected, which is a record for the 2018-19 season.Don Waddell, Carolina's general manager, stated Wednesday that the team offered Hamilton an 8-year contract. However, sources claim that the AAV was lower than the $9 million Hamilton ultimately received.This week has been an important week for young defensemen being paid. Hamilton's representation might have used prior deals to raise the bar. Seth Jones signed an 8-year contract with Chicago, with a $9.5million AAV. Miro Heiskanen, who has an $8.45m AAV, signed an extension in Dallas. Cale Makar also signed a six-year contract with Colorado. It carries a $9. million AAV.