Dougie Hamilton announced his presence with authority on Friday as members of the media shoved plenty of microphones in his face. When a team wins their first Stanley Cup in 39 years and still gets the 9th overall pick in the draft, there’s going to be some excitement. After all—take the best team in the league last season, add one of the best defensive prospects in the draft, and you have the recipe for long-term success. Needless to say, there’s some intrigue surrounding the 6’5” blueliner.
Since the day he was drafted, it was no secret that he needed to put on some weight before entering the league. Having a long reach is one thing—having the strength to control NHL power forwards is completely different. So far this summer, he’s already proven that he has the ability to put add muscle to his lanky frame. Assistant GM Jim Benning likes what he’s seen so far:
“He looked really good today I thought he’s skating well. From the summer he weighed in at 188 and was 194 today, so he put on 5-6 lbs of muscle. He’s a young player and he’ll continue to get stronger and bigger. He’s going to be a good player. It’s just going to be a matter of time with him.”
The final statement in Benning’s remark tells the tale. There’s plenty of hope and optimism surrounding Hamilton; but defensemen take time to develop. Aside from growing into his frame and continuing to add muscle, he’ll need to continue to learn how to play defense at the higher leagues. He’s able to use his long wingspan to get out of trouble when he’s out of position in the OHL. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy when the players are even bigger and faster at the NHL level.
DJ Bean of WEEI in Boston noted that even though Hamilton has grown, there’s still plenty of room on his frame for more muscle:
“Wherever Hamilton is size-wise these days, it likely won’t be the same when he becomes an NHL regular, which is more likely to happen later rather than sooner. The common line of thinking is that he’ll need another year in the OHL to bulk up and polish his skill set, with Chiarelli saying in July that 210 pounds would be a “great” playing weight for Hamilton.”
It’s going to be extremely tough for Hamilton to make the team out of training camp even with the mounting hype. The Bruins solidified their top 6 for the upcoming season when the Bruins acquired Joe Corvo to replace Tomas Kaberle. Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid, Johnny Boychuk, and Andrew Ference proved that when they play together, their defense is good enough to lead the team to a Stanley Cup. Matt Bartkowski and Steve Kampfer will be battling it out in training camp for the honor of sitting in the press box as the team’s 7th defenseman. Then today, the Bruins signed 23-year-old defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk to a one-year deal. The move gives the organization even more depth on the back-end and serves as a safety policy against injuries.
That’s a minimum of nine players who come into training camp ahead of Hamilton on the depth chart. No matter how well he plays in training camp, it will probably to take an injury (or two) for Hamilton to get a whiff of the NHL this season. With depth and experience, the Bruins are in the enviable position of being able to take their time with their prized prospect.
Then again, that won’t stop him from trying to make an impression on management this week. Stranger things have happened—but I wouldn’t hold my breath for an opportunity this season.