2011 NHL Draft Prospects: No. 4 Dougie Hamilton
May 7, 2011 1 Comment
Want to be an NHL scout? Great! Welcome aboard! Why don’t you go out to those mite games and tell me who is going to be a star one day. Oh, that one? Wait, you sure? …The kid that’s skating in circles, jumping over the blue line again and again, 100 feet away from the play? You’re fired.
But seriously, that’s what Niagra IceDogs star defenseman Dougie Hamilton did as a youngster. The Toronto, Ontario native has been a stellar force on the Ontario League blueline since he joined Niagra as a rookie last season. This season, he was a plus-35 in 67 games – a huge increase from his minus-8 rookie showing. He also contributed 12 goals and 58 points to help lead his team to a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
At 6-foot-4 and 193 pounds, Hamilton is a tall, lanky defenseman who still has room to bulk up a bit. But there is no doubt that the teen can play the game. And regardless of what scouts say, he’s even stronger this year than he was last. “It becomes more fun being able to push guys off the puck,” Hamilton said in an NHL.com interview. “When you’re stronger it’s easier to do that. I realize I’m able to do that this. I do have fun with it. I do have fun battling with guys in corners. I like doing it.”
“He moves the puck well and makes good outlet passes,” NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards told NHL.com. “He does make good decisions with the puck, moves it very well out of his zone. He’s a big guy, he’ll take the body. He uses his size well. He can muscle people off the puck.”
Hamilton has shown scouts what an incredible skater he is, which is a must at his size. His footwork and ability to keep up with the best forwards in the OHL continues to make Central Scouting look good. In fact, it’s the main reason why he is the top-ranked North American defenseman. But, of course, not the only one. His aggression in the offensive zone (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pueplM5c9_E) stuns opponents, and his ability to quickly get back on the defensive side of the puck annoys the hell out of them as well.
Having already been compared to Calgary Flames defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, Hamilton has a knack for getting the puck to the net, but still slips up defensively from time to time. After playing forward for his entire life, he was moved to the back of the formation at age 13. For the past four years, Hamilton has been learning the craft of a defenseman, and though at times he looks like one of the best, he is occasionally plagued by inconsistency – but nothing that a few more years of development can’t fix. After all, defenseman rarely reach the height of their potential before 26 or 27.
“Especially at this level, you find guys that are awkward or don’t have a lot of explosion,” Niagara coach Marty Williamson told NHL.com. “You’re 6-foot-4, you don’t have a lot of explosion (but) the jump off his skates is phenomenal. When he sees those opportunities to jump into the rush or lead the rush, I really believe it’s untapped what he can do. He’s a very special defenseman in our league. He just has to understand the details and he’s going to be a very good pro.”
Alan Bass, a writer for The Hockey News and THN.com, is the author of The Great Expansion: The Ultimate Risk That Changed The NHL Forever. He has worked for the Philadelphia Flyers’ Fan Development department, going to schools throughout the tri-state area to teach about fitness and the importance of teamwork. He is the General Manager of the Muhlenberg College Division II hockey team as well. You can contact him at Alanbasswriting@aol.com.