By Kirk Luedeke
The Boston Bruins signed defenseman Dougie Hamilton to a three-year entry level contract the team announced Thursday.
The St. Catharines, Ontario native was Boston’s first choice, ninth overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The Niagara Ice Dogs star is currently the team’s leading scorer and sits eighth in the OHL scoring race with 11 goals and 41 points.
“Obviously, it’s a big honor for me,” he said in a statement released to media by the team. “I think it’s kind of been something I’ve worked towards ever since I got drafted. Just to have it finally happen, it’s really exciting for me and my family and it’s just really exciting.”
Hamilton admitted that signing with the Bruins less than six months after the B’s made him their first choice in the draft was not something that weighed heavily on his mind, but is glad to have a deal done.
” I wasn’t really too focused on it too much,” said Hamilton. “I just wanted to improve everyday and work hard and get better and do the things I need to do in order to achieve my dreams.
“So I think that’s one step closer to becoming an NHL player and I think it’s something that most of the guys, all the prospects do and when they are getting closer to make that jump. For me, I am just really excited and am just going to keep working as hard as I can to make the Bruins.”
Hamilton’s torrid offensive start earned him OHL Defenseman of the Month honors for both months of October and November. He is the OHL’s top point producer among defensemen and has emerged as one of the most dangerous power play point men in all of junior hockey.
“I think it’s a little bit of everything,” he said of his strong start. “I think just being in your third season in the OHL, having the confidence that you can make plays and can make stuff happen on the ice. And coming back from NHL camp with the Bruins I think is definitely exciting for me.”
Along with fellow B’s prospect Ryan Spooner, Hamilton will depart this weekend for Calgary and the Team Canada World Junior Evaluation Camp. Hamilton is said to have a strong chance to make the club, as does Spooner.
“It’s a really good opportunity for me,” he said. “With both of my parents being Olympic athletes representing Canada, I think it’s really special if I can represent Canada as well. I did it two summers ago with the under 18 team, but I think this is a whole new level with the amount of talent there is with the Canadian players. Just to be invited to the camp is an honor in itself and hopefully I can make the team. And to be able to do it with my brother would be even more special.”
All in all, it’s been a pretty good couple of months for Hamilton, and signing the deal may just be the tip of the iceberg with the WJC tourney around the corner.
Hamilton’s deal does not start running until he either makes the Bruins next season and plays more than 10 games or when he turns pro and is eligible to play in the AHL full-time during the 2013-14 season.
Although he signed his ELC, Hamilton cannot play for the Bruins until his OHL season (regular and playoffs) is complete. Niagara is one of the better clubs in conference, so should the Ice Dogs advance past the first round, the NHL regular season would be over by then.
Boston will have to decide whether to keep Hamilton in Boston for the 2012-13 season or return him to junior. That decision will be based on myriad factors, including how much weight he puts on between now and September, 2012, how he finishes out the season with the Ice Dogs, whether returning him for what could be another dominant season in junior could hurt his development and what the Boston defense corps looks like.