Boston Bruins Prospect Report: Dougie Hamilton

(September 11, 2011 – Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By Benjamin Woodward (@_BWoodward)

Player: Dougie Hamilton

Position: Defense

2011-’12 Team: Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)

Drafted: First Round (9th Overall), 2011

Vitals: 6’5”, 193 lbs., Age 19

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Camp Observations: The extraordinary turnout at Ristuccia Memorial Arena (Wilmington, MA) last week was definitely a testament to the Boston Bruins’ passionate fan base, but could also be attributed to the excitement over Ontario Hockey League Defenseman of the Year Dougie Hamilton. The 6’5” blueliner was the best player on the ice at last week’s rookie development camp, exhibiting tremendous skill in all facets of the game. He was strong in the defensive zone, using his long reach to break up scoring chances and one-on-one breaks during the camp’s two scrimmage games. Perhaps most impressive was the confidence with which the 19-year-old prospect would jump into the rush and use his immense puck handling skills to create offense for his team. Hamilton will provide a vast improvement in the transition game of whatever team he suits up for this season (Boston or Niagara).

Future: It’s widely believed that Hamilton will be making the jump to the NHL next season, despite holding one more year of OHL eligibility. After an otherworldly 72-point campaign in 2011-’12, the Niagara Ice Dog simply has nothing left to prove at the junior hockey level.

“I don’t want to hand anyone a job at this point in July. But based on what I’ve seen this year and what I’ve seen this camp and how I project I think he’s going to be a top challenger for a [roster] spot.” – Peter Chiarelli

With only five NHL defensemen currently under contract for next season (Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ference, Adam McQuaid), Hamilton will have every opportunity to secure himself a spot on the roster when training camp rolls around in September. This fall will mark Hamilton’s second appearance at Boston’s training camp and will allow him the chance to skate alongside a man he thinks quite highly of, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.

“Last year at minicamp, [Chara] helped me out and I was lucky to be paired with him for a little bit. To just listen to him and just watch him, it’s definitely a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to getting back [at training camp.]” – Dougie Hamilton

Potential: There’s a reason that Bruins’ general manager Peter Chiarelli has been reluctant to include Hamilton in any of the potential blockbuster deals that the Bruins have been rumored to have been interested in (i.e. Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan). Hamilton has every tool necessary to one day become a superstar defenseman in the NHL. His rare combination of strength, skill, speed, and tremendous range has often drawn comparisons to former Los Angeles Kings’ blueliner Rob Blake. For fans looking for what to expect out of the 19-year-old in his first professional season, here is how Hamilton described he can bring to the table at the NHL level:

“I’m a big guy and a pretty good skater for my size. I think I’m pretty smart and can make plays, make a good first pass. I think I can also be physical. I think there’s pretty much a little bit of everything.” – Dougie Hamilton

It would be silly to expect the bright-eyed teenager to step in next season and instantly perform at an All-Star caliber level, but in the future, Hamilton is expected to become a dominant top-pairing defenseman in the NHL.