Can Dougie Hamilton make the Bruins this season?

2 Comments

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.

Video: Flames goalie makes incredible behind-the-back glove save

Screen grab
2 Comments

A save of the year candidate in September? It’s possible.

Jon Gillies of the Calgary Flames made an incredible stop during Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Vancouver Canucks.

The camera angle from directly above the net is the best, as it clearly shows how Gillies appeared to bump the puck back toward the goal line, then suddenly reach back with a no-look, behind-the-back glove save to prevent a Canucks goal and stop play.

That is one incredible save.

Drouin shows ‘commitment’ to community with donation to Montreal hospital

Screen grab
1 Comment

Jonathan Drouin has yet to play a regular season game for his new team, the Montreal Canadiens.

But after getting traded to the Habs in the summer, Drouin has already made a sizable contribution in the community, donating $500,000 over 10 years to the University of Montreal Hospital Centre and planning to help in the fundraising activities to raise an additional $5 million, according to The Canadian Press.

From Sportsnet:

“I think all of that had some impact on his overall decision making,” Drouin’s agent Allan Walsh told Sportsnet. “One day when he’s retired and 50 years old, that hospital [which will begin serving patients for the first time this coming October] will still be here and he’ll have played a role in its development. That means something to him.

“But I think more than anything else he wants to help people. If he can help people—the hospital is going to be the largest hospital in North America and there’s a tremendous need for it in the city—and if he can use the fact that he plays for the Montreal Canadiens to do that, I wish more players felt that kind of responsibility to their communities.”

As noted in the Sportsnet piece above, Drouin is following in the footsteps of Saku Koivu and P.K. Subban, who made generous donations in the community during their time in Montreal.

The Habs acquired Drouin from the Lightning in June, sending prospect defenseman Mikhail Sergachev to Tampa Bay. They then signed the 22-year-old forward — who was born in nearby Ste-Agathe, Que. — to a six-year, $33 million contract.

It won’t be long before the pressure falls on Drouin’s on-ice ability, especially playing as a potential No. 1 center in Montreal and essentially being a hometown player for the Habs. But without even playing a meaningful game for his new team, he’s already giving back to an important cause in the city.

“And when you look at that, if you make $6 million and you give $50,000 a year, it’s not a big deal and you get tax receipts,” he said, per the Montreal Gazette. “But it’s a commitment, and being involved in the community and doing something for your community I think it’s something that you have to do.”

Lupul apologizes, takes ‘full responsibility’ after calling out Maple Leafs on Instagram

Getty
5 Comments

Joffrey Lupul made headlines earlier this week after appearing to make accusations against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Instagram.

The comments — which have since been deleted but caught on a screen grab — came after the Maple Leafs announced Lupul failed his physical prior to training camp for the second year in a row.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per the screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

On Wednesday, the 33-year-old forward, who hasn’t played since the 2015-16 season, posted a statement on his verified Twitter account, saying his Instagram comments were an “inappropriate response.”

Here is his entire statement:

What’s also significant is that he stated he will not seek a second medical opinion regarding this failed physical. As previously noted, that option was available to him, although, per reports, the deadline for this was 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Lupul is in the final year of his five-year, $26.25 million contract.

Erik Cole retires as a member of the Hurricanes

Getty
Leave a comment

Erik Cole has officially retired.

The Carolina Hurricanes made the announcement on Wednesday, stating that Cole signed a ceremonial contract with the NHL team and retired as a member of the Hurricanes.

Now 38 years old, Cole played 892 regular season games in the NHL, scoring 265 goals and 532 points. A number of his best seasons occurred while he was with the Hurricanes, reaching 30 goals with the 2005-06 Stanley Cup winning team.

His best season came with the Montreal Canadiens in 2011-12, as he scored 35 goals and 61 points.

His last season was in 2014-15. He began the year in Dallas and was moved to Detroit at the trade deadline, but a spinal cord contusion essentially meant an end to his playing career.

From the Detroit Free Press in April, 2015:

Cole revealed Wednesday that he has a spinal cord contusion severe enough doctors have cautioned him not to play again this spring.

“It stems back from my neck injury in 2006,” Cole said. “When I ran into the player in the Arizona game, I bruised my spinal cord. A spinal contusion is something that you have to let heal and obviously, it’s a pretty serious occurrence. Doctors feel I need to look out for my well-being as a person, not just as a hockey player.”

Cole is now a team ambassador for the Hurricanes.