WILMINGTON, MA – Last year's ninth overall draft pick, Dougie Hamilton, wasn't necessarily drafted by a team looking for a specific player to build around - instead, he was selected by a Bruins team that was the reigning Stanley Cup Champions.
|Hamilton with Coach Cassidy
“I enjoy that a lot,” he said of the organization ready to contend. “I think it definitely is a different opportunity.
"I think I’m pretty lucky to be here.”
But one downside of joining an organization with such depth is the difficulty in earning a roster spot, and B's Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney reminded media at the Bruins 2012 Development Camp that the reigning Northeast Division champs aren’t just going to hand a Black & Gold jersey to the big defenseman.
“We’re hopeful that he can come in and establish himself, but it’s up to him,” Sweeney said. “Nobody gives him anything.”
Despite the spotlight being on Hamilton to make the squad, he doesn’t feel the weight of the expectations.
“It doesn’t really matter what other people think and at the end of the day it’s the Bruins making the decisions,” Hamilton said. “I want to come in to camp and try to prove myself and earn a spot on the team.”
Hamilton spoke about needing to fulfill those expectations and getting up to par physically for the NHL level.
“I think there’s still a little bit I need to do and get ready over the summer,” Hamilton said. “But I think I feel good and I’m excited.”
At 6-foot-5, 205-pounds, Hamilton’s already pretty big, but Sweeney has even bigger hopes for the blueliner between now and September.
“I would suspect he’ll be bigger and stronger,” Sweeney said, “I don’t think there’ll be a physical aspect to his game that we’re concerned about.”
It was hard to find concerns with his game at all this year while he played with the Niagara Ice Dogs in the Ontario Hockey League. Hamilton was named OHL Defenseman of the Year, yielding 17-55-72 points with a +37 plus/minus rating.
“I think overall he just became a dominant player at that level and he’s ready for the next step,” Sweeney said.
"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 spot," said B's GM Peter Chiarelli following camp.
"He’s put on 11 pounds from last year and you wouldn’t even notice it, you notice it in his statue, but the way he moves you don’t notice it. So he’s on a real good progression line and development line."
Despite being under the careful eye of management, Hamilton knows his success is reflected solely by the person standing in the mirror.
“I think at the end of the day it comes down to what you think,” Hamilton said. “I think I believe in myself.”
If the 19-year-old OHL Defenseman of the Year can maintain his upward progress in elevating his game, he could be in for a long tenure in Boston.