September 12, 2013

2013-14 Bruins Player Preview: Dougie Hamilton

By Mike Miccoli

Leading up to the start of the season, New England Hockey Journal will be taking a look ahead to 2013-14 with a series of Bruins player previews throughout September. We continue today with a look at second-year pro Dougie Hamilton.

DOUGIE HAMILTON | #27 | Defense

HEIGHT: 6-foot-5 WEIGHT: 199 SHOOTS: Right

BORN: June 17, 1993 – Toronto, Ontario, Canada

DRAFT: 2011 – 1st round (9th Overall) by the Boston Bruins

CONTRACT STATUS: Signed through 2014-15 ($1.5 million cap hit)

2012-13 STATISTICS: 5 goals, 11 assists, 16 points, plus-4 in 42 games

LOOKING BACK ON 2013

When you think about it, Dougie Hamilton had a roller coaster of a rookie year. His highly-anticipated debut on the Boston Bruins’ blue line came with much fanfare and, after his first few games with the team, it seemed Hamilton had etched himself a permanent spot on the team’s back-end. Hamilton would log close to 20 minutes of ice-time per game for his first month as a professional hockey player, partnering with stalwart defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. He would even go on to have a four-game point streak in the middle of the season, tallying two goals and two assists.

There were certainly flaws to his game, too. Hamilton did have some trouble transitioning his offensive style of play from juniors and looked plain brutal at times in his own zone. As time went on in the season, Hamilton became more of a bottom-pairing defenseman, often spending time as a healthy scratch for the Bruins. He was also more hesitant when controlling the puck, an organic trait which made him such an attractive prospect for the Bruins when drafted. In his first 10 games, Hamilton registered 26 shots on net, while he only took 18 in his final 10. His minutes on ice dipped, too.

Hamilton spent the majority of the postseason as a healthy scratch, playing in only seven of the Bruins’ 22 games. Although the young defenseman looked like he regained some of his poise lost in the regular season, he was overlooked once rookies Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug stole the show. In a word, Hamilton was inconsistent. In reality, he was only still finding his game.

FIVE FACTS

1. At 6-foot-5, Dougie Hamilton is the second tallest Bruin on the roster behind, shocker, Zdeno Chara (6-foot-9).

2. Barring a training camp breakthrough from Anthony Camara (Sept. 4, 1993) or Alexander Khokhlachev (Sept. 9, 1993), Hamilton (June 17, 1993) will once again be the youngest Bruin on the roster.

3. Hamilton’s brother Freddie is a center for the AHL’s Worcester Sharks and was drafted 129th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by San Jose. Together, the two played on Team Canada in the 2012 World Junior Classic and earned a bronze medal.

4. Hamilton is the second-ever defenseman to be taken ninth overall by the Boston Bruins. The first? Kyle McLaren in 1995.

5. Hamilton holds the records for the OHL’s Niagara Ice Dogs for most points by a defenseman in a single season with 72 in 2011-12.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2013-14

With Andrew Ference gone, a permanent spot opens up on the Boston blue line—that’s the good news. The bad news is that Krug and Bartkowski will also be competing for that spot and after their impressive playoff campaigns, it seems they’d have the upper-hand over Hamilton. Factor a motivated Joe Morrow into the mix and it seems pretty evident that the spot gift-wrapped for Hamilton last season will be a challenge to obtain. Simply put, Hamilton needs to be the most impressive defenseman in training camp in order for him to make the Opening Night roster.

Most likely, it seems that Hamilton could be heading to the AHL to hone his defensive skills with the Providence Bruins. With that said, there’s no doubt in my mind that Hamilton will, perhaps sooner than we think, be in Boston. But unless he’s outstanding in the preseason or Krug or Bartkowski regress, I can’t envision Hamilton as a starting-six defenseman in Boston to begin the 2013-14 season.

PREDICTION FOR 2013-14

So how does Hamilton get his game back to where it should be? Easy—the power play. It’s almost certain that the pairing of Krug and Hamilton will eventually hold the blue line when the Bruins have the man-advantage. Putting two dynamic, puck-moving defensemen on the back-end to generate passes and quarterback the power-play should result in some traction and offensive production for Boston. Once Hamilton better polishes his skills, one way to stand-out on the team is to be effective in an area that has been a weakness for the club for years. If Hamilton can do this, he’ll contribute. If he contributes, he’ll stick around and make quite the impact.

Even though Hamilton won’t, in my opinion, start the season with Boston, he’ll see plenty of time with the big club as the year rolls on. Once he gets to Boston though, he’ll make it a point to boost his play and stay but he first needs to learn how to become a better defenseman in all three zones.

PREDICTION: 7 goals, 16 assists, 23 points, plus-6 in 56 games.

Photos: Getty Images

Twitter: @MikeMiccoli
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