Carolina Hurricanes: Dougie Hamilton injury is a heartbreaker

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 16: Columbus Blue Jackets center Emil Bemstrom (52) and Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton (19) battle for position on the ice during the game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Carolina Hurricanes at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio on January 16, 2020. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 16: Columbus Blue Jackets center Emil Bemstrom (52) and Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton (19) battle for position on the ice during the game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Carolina Hurricanes at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio on January 16, 2020. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Carolina Hurricanes will be without All-Star defenseman Dougie Hamilton for an indefinite period of time after he broke his fibula.

The Carolina Hurricanes got some very unfortunate news on Friday. On Thursday night, during their 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, star defenseman Dougie Hamilton with the victim of a terribly unlucky play in which he got tangled up with Blue Jackets forward Kevin Stenlund.

Hamilton’s leg bended uncomfortably and he needed help to get off the ice, as he could put no weight on his leg. Hurricanes beat writers and reporters assumed the worst. On Friday, the news came out. Hamilton will miss an indefinite period of time thanks to a broken fibula. A more precise timetable for his return should be available after the Hurricanes finish evaluating him on Friday.

This could not have come at a worse time for Hamilton. He was scheduled to participate in his first NHL All-Star Game next weekend. Hamilton was looking forward to it and it was a well-deserved honor. Entering Friday, he was near the top of just about everyone’s Norris Trophy ballot. Hamilton ranks fourth among all NHL defensemen with 40 points and his +17 5v5 goal differential is among the highest marks in the league.

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The Hurricanes will not be sans an All-Star, though, as his teammate (and often linemate) Jaccob Slavin will be getting a long overdue trip to the All-Star Game. However, this doesn’t ease the pain of losing a defenseman of Hamilton’s caliber.

Though Slavin is likely the Canes top defenseman, Hamilton’s not too far behind. Hamilton is the motor that gets the Hurricanes power play running. They’ve scored 33 power play goals this season and, per Natural Stat Trick, he has been on the ice for 23 of them. Hamilton has 13 power play points, which is tied for 11th among defensemen. Jake Gardiner has the next most power play points among Hurricanes defensemen with four.

Internal Options

Replacing Hamilton will be a very difficult, if not impossible, task for Carolina to accomplish with internal options. Gardiner hasn’t been nearly as good as expected, as his back injury from last season has affected not just his skating, which was always one of his greatest strengths, but also his overall confidence. Perhaps some time with the first power play unit will help get him back on track.

Let’s forget about the power play though, because Hamilton is the Hurricanes’ third-most used defenseman at even strength, trailing only Slavin and Brett Pesce. He averages over 17 minutes per game at even strength. Those are a lot of minutes to have to replace. Hamilton’s 1.87 points per hour at even strength leads the team’s blueline. That’s a lot of production to replace.

Jake Bean is their best internal option. After posting an impressive 44 points last season in the AHL, he already has 27 points in his first 37 games with the Charlotte Checkers this season. One has to imagine Bean will get a chance to prove himself, as it would obviously be ideal if he could replace Hamilton.

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However, the Hurricanes will likely have to explore some candidates from outside the organization. They were reportedly already kicking the tires on numerous defensemen. Now the Hurricanes will likely increase their efforts. However, the rental market for defensemen is relatively weak, so the Canes might have to get creative to find a suitable replacement for their most lethal blueline weapon.