Boston Bruins’ fans love to chant “Thank you, Kessel” every time Tyler Seguin does well. Now that the trade that sent Phil Kessel to Toronto is now complete, it certainly appears Bruins’ fans will be chanting that far more often.
Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli used the final pick acquired from the Maple Leafs to select defenseman Dougie Hamilton in the 9th spot of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft Friday night. Hamilton will join Seguin and highly-regarded center Jared Knight as the three players acquired with the picks from the Kessel trade.
The 6-foot-4, 193-pound Hamilton was rated as the fourth-best North American skater available and projected to go in the Top 5 in many mock drafts, and very few had the Niagara IceDogs blue liner falling to the Bruins at No. 9. However, the Bruins were pleasantly surprised when his name was still on the board, as they got a top-flight defensive prospect to go along with the two top-tier offensive prospects in Seguin and Knight.
“A little bit,” Chiarielli said. “We had him basically in our top five, and as we might have expected, a couple of players that we had listed below our ninth kind of slid into that group and pushed him down and I think maybe people went off track a little bit and there he was.”
Hamiton, whom Chiaralli compared to Rob Blake, was not one of the four players Chiarelli invited to Boston. He said they knew how good Hamilton was and did not need to bring him in for an interview. He said Hamilton was a tremendous skater with good offensive instincts and a physical presence to his game.
For his part, Hamilton compared his style to Blake, Jay Bouwmeester, and Brent Burns, and added he still needs to continue to work hard to make the jump to the next level.
Hamilton comes from an athletic pedigree. His dad, Doug, was a member of the Canadian crew team that won bronze in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, while his mother Lynn played for Canada’s women’s basketball team that same Olympics. His older brother, Fred, was drafted by the San Jose Sharks a year ago.
“It’s good to have good genes,” Hamilton said. “Coming from athletic parents really helped me understand the commitment level needed to be successful. They knew what it took, and they instilled that work ethic into their kids.”
Hamilton is a skilled player who posted 12-46-58 totals in 67 games with Niagara of the OHL, placing third in the league’s top defenseman voting. He also had 77 penalty minutes, an impressive plus-35 rating, and demonstrates the hands necessary to quarterback a power play. Seeing the Bruins have been looking for a guy like that for years and gave up a lot to get Tomas Kaberle at the trade deadline, Hamilton could fill a definite need for the team.
However, he may still be a year away. Chiarelli pointed out the Bruins would like him to get a bit bigger and stronger, though many draft experts and scouts feel Hamilton might be ready to play in the NHL this season. However, with the depth the Bruins currently have on defense – the B’s return their top five defenseman as well as talented young blueliners Steve Kamfer, Matt Bartkowski, and David Warsofsky – they may be able to afford to let Hamilton have some time to develop some size and polish his skills a bit more.
“I’d say he needs a little more development,” Chiarelli said. “He’s still fairly skinny. He has to be stronger, but you never know. You never know how he’ll have his summer, but my guess is that he’s at least a year away.”
Many NHL experts were thrilled with the Bruins pick, including Pierre McGuire, who said, “Boston’s tough blue line just got a whole lot more nasty! That trade with Toronto is paying serious benefits.”
For his part, Hamilton was not disappointed with dropping to the ninth spot. He was a guest of the NHL at Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, and witnessed the excitement and energy of the TD Garden and saw the dedication, love and knowledge Bruins’ fans have for their team and the sport. He also had the opportunity to chat with Bruins’ players, including Seguin, prior to watching the game.
“I’m really excited to be drafted by the Stanley Cup champions,” Hamilton said. “When Sean (Couturier) was drafted at eight, we looked up and saw Boston sitting at nine and started thinking about how great it would be to go to a team that just won the Staley Cup and has some great defensemen to learn from.”
Hamilton added he loved the Boston, saying, “It was a really nice city. The rink was nice, the fans were crazy, which is good to see. The atmosphere was great. I loved it there and I’m happy to be going back there.”
He also credited former NHL defenseman and Niagara assistant coach Mike Vna RYn with aiding his development. Van Ryn was a solid, two-way defenseman and has been working with Hamilton on developing the skills he will need to be a contributor at the NHL level.
Hamilton will attend the Bruins’ development camp next month and has been invited to Team Canada’s development camp in August. The camp, which will be held in Edmonton and Fort McMurray, Alberta, is the first step in determining Canada’s roster for the World Junior Championship. He is also expected to participate in the Bruins’ rookie and main training camp in the late summer/early fall.