BOSTON -- Over the summer, the Bruins selected 18-year-old Dougie Hamilton in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. By that time next year, Hamilton could be competing for a spot on the Black & Gold’s roster.
“Based on what I saw, and based on how I think he’ll develop, I think he will [push for a job with the Bruins next season],” said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. “We’ll see how Dougie plays the rest of the year, [and] we’ll see how our guys play the rest of the year…but I think he’ll challenge for a spot next year.”
The team announced on Thursday that they had signed the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs defenseman to an entry-level contract. At that time, Hamilton led all OHL defensemen in goals, assists and points, was tied for seventh in scoring (11-30-41) among all OHL players and had been named the league’s Defenseman of the Month for October. Still, Chiarelli said Hamilton’s strong start didn’t lead to the early signing.
“These deals, they’re almost slotted right now for guys that are maybe in the top 15 or 20, so it’s not a real hard deal to do,” Chiarelli said. “It’s just like, ‘when we get around to you, Dougie, we’ll sign you.’ His start didn’t push us, but it was nice to see.”
The Bruins see Hamilton as a two-way player with solid skills and the potential to improve even more, Chiarelli said.
“He’s got a real good stick. He knocks pucks down, [and] he’s always in the lane with his stick, so that’s hockey sense, but it’s also a real mature attribute to have,” he said. “I hope he’ll be a number-one defenseman.”
The GM said he also sees the opportunity for Hamilton to become a physical player, like Philadelphia Flyer Braydon Coburn.
“The size, skating [and] range is all there in both players,” Chiarelli said. “[Hamilton] finishes with authority; he’s not a crasher and a banger….His checking is almost like, just separating. He doesn’t need that big gap to hit a guy.”
The signing is “a big honor,” Hamilton said. “It’s kind of been something I’ve worked towards ever since I got drafted.”
And now that it’s happened, he’ll be focusing on becoming a better player and physically stronger and bigger to prepare himself to compete at the NHL level.
“[I want to] keep improving all aspects of my game…keep making passes, keep being physical and keep producing offensively,” Hamilton said. “I’m just working hard and hoping for that opportunity next year.”