Boston Bruins 2011 first-round draft pick Dougie Hamilton is tearing up the Ontario Hockey League this season.
On Thursday, his dream year continued to get even better with the signing of his first professional contract. The Bruins announced the signing of the No. 9 pick from last June's draft to an entry-level deal.
"I don't think I was really too focused on it … I just wanted to improve every day and work hard and get better and do the things I need to do in order to achieve my dreams," said Hamilton, who leads all OHL defenseman in goals (11), assists (30) and points (41). "So I think that's one step closer to becoming an NHL player. … For me, I am just really excited and am just going to keep working as hard as I can to make the Bruins."
While skating for the Niagara IceDogs, Hamilton has won the OHL Defenseman of the Month Award two months running. He'll be attending Team Canada's World Junior Championship evaluation camp later this month and could compete for a job with Boston by next fall.
"That's what I am working towards right now," Hamilton said. "I think I've improved a lot since I got drafted and over the course of the year, and obviously the team is really good and they are doing really well right now. For me, that's a goal of mine, and I'm, like I said, working as hard as I can. I think next summer is going to be an important summer for me as far as my development and for my future."
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli he's excited by Hamilton's ability at both ends of the ice, not just his fast start offensively.
"Obviously, I’m happy at the start that he’s had, but he had a pretty good statistical year and offensive year last year, and he’s obviously exceeding it," Chiarelli said Thursday night. "But the strength of his game is the two-way play, the passing, the closing gaps. He’s going to put up points just because of his skill and his skating, his smarts, but I certainly don’t project him to be a high-end points guy."
Though Hamilton is coming to the defending Stanley Cup champions and a team with no discernable holes on the blue line, Chiarelli didn't dismiss the possibility that Hamilton could compete for an NHL job next fall.
"I do," he said of the chance Hamilton could earn a spot next season. "Based on what I saw, and based on how I think he'll develop, I think he will."