There were a lot of expectations for Dougie Hamilton after he was drafted ninth overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. One of the biggest reasons for those expectations was the comments made by Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli after he drafted Hamilton.
The genuine surprise from Chiarelli that Hamilton was still available made it clear the Bruins organization thought they had just drafted a future All-Star player.
In his first season with the Bruins, Hamilton scored five goals and had 11 assists in 42 games played. Despite only being 19-years-old and having less than a full season of NHL experience, questions about whether or not Hamilton would live up to expectations started to float around the media. Those questions only intensified when midway through last season Hamilton was still making rookie mistakes and had to miss some games due to injury. His continued struggles made the Bruins lack of movement to acquire a top-four defenseman at the trade deadline surprising, but Hamilton ultimately proved the team’s confidence in his ability was not misplaced.
Down the stretch of the regular season, Hamilton began to show flashes of becoming the player the Bruins envisioned he would become when they drafted him. He continued to play a big role on the first power play unit, and started to cut down on the mistakes he was making earlier in the season. Dougie also increased his physical presence on the ice, using his big 6-foot-5 frame to lay solid checks on opposing players. Hamilton’s improved play at the end of the regular season earned him a spot on the first defensive pairing with Zdeno Chara for the playoffs. It was another opportunity for Hamilton to show he was on his way to reaching his potential.
Once again Hamilton proved the coaches right and was the best Bruins defenseman throughout the playoffs. In 12 playoff games, Hamilton scored two goals and had five assists, all while playing against the oppositions top lines. The biggest improvement from the regular season to the playoffs was Hamilton’s decision making and confidence with the puck. When there was a chance to push the pace and carry the puck out of his own zone Hamilton did it, and when he had to decide whether to pinch down in the offensive zone or stay back on the offensive blue line he consistently made the correct decision.
After a season that saw Hamilton improve drastically, the soon to be 21-year-old will have another offseason to get bigger and stronger. The emerging star will also need to improve his defensive game so he can start getting time on the penalty kill and become more of an all around defenseman. Although nothing is certain, judging by the improvements he made from year one to year two, Hamilton is set to have a breakout season.