July 8, 2011

Hamilton looking like the 'real deal' at camp

by Jesse Connolly

Bruins prospect Dougie Hamilton had 58 points in 67 games for the OHL's Niagara IceDogs last season. (Getty)

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- In all facets of life, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

The Bruins have already seen plenty of Dougie Hamilton during his days with the OHL's Niagara IceDogs, doing their due diligence before selecting the standout defenseman ninth overall in June, but this week's development camp at Ristuccia Arena has given the team its first opportunity to see their new prized prospect up close and personal.

So far, everyone involved has been extremely impressed.

"For a big guy at 6-foot-4, he moves pretty well, he’s pretty fluid," said Bruce Cassidy, who was recently named the new head coach for the B's AHL affiliate in Providence. "Most guys who are eighteen years old are still growing into their body, they’re a little bit clumsy, but he’s got very smooth feet for a big man and gets around the ice very well.

"I haven’t seen him play, obviously, I don’t do the scouting, but I imagine that’s going to translate and that’s why he was the ninth pick, because of his skating and his, he looks like a heady player, he has a good stick."

Assistant GM Don Sweeney echoed Cassidy's sentiments, as the longtime Bruins defenseman praised Hamilton's ability to play well in all areas of the game at such a young age.

"I like his overall approach to the game, you know, he looks like he wants to get up ice and is conscientious about his one-on-one play," said Sweeney. "And it’s a small sample size, obviously, but based on all of our games we watched him play, he’s a well-rounded player that has a lot of room for continued development so we’re really excited to have him."

The 18-year-old Hamilton, much like all of his fellow first-timers at a pro development camp, is getting used to the change in routine from his typical offseason.

"In the summer, you're kind of used to working out and not skating on the ice," said Hamilton. "You're kind of out of breath a little bit out there and it's hot. But it's good to get out there and have fun."

The Toronto, Ont., native finds himself surrounded by a number of camp veterans, putting him in on-ice situations where he must battle with players that in some cases are more than three years his elder -- including 2007 draftee and fellow blueliner Tommy Cross, who will turn 22 this fall.

While some may perceive that as a disadvantage, Hamilton welcomes the change of pace.

"Obviously there's a lot of good players here, so it's different from the OHL where some guys are younger than you," he said. "There's a lot of older guys and it's fast-paced out there, so it's fun."

While odds are high that Hamilton will spend more time honing his skills in the OHL again next season, his standout performance thus far has many anxiously awaiting the chance to see how he stacks up against NHL players at main camp two months from now.

"Again, he’s one guy for sure that I’ve noticed that looks good," Cassidy said. "You don’t know until September comes around, until he’s playing against men, but he sure looks like the real deal out there for the past forty-eight hours."