Hamilton keeps turning heads with 'Dougie moments'

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Hamilton keeps turning heads with 'Dougie moments'

Four games into the Bruins season nearly all precincts are reporting in on the Phil Kessel trade to Toronto four years ago, and its the gift that keeps on giving for the Black and Gold. Its also likely one of the biggest reasons why Brian Burke is no longer in charge of the Toronto Maple Leafs after they traded the draft picks used by the Bruins to select both Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton.

Perhaps the chants should change from Thank You, Kessel to Thank You, Burkie because it certainly looks like the Bruins now have their franchise players that will keep a Cup-worthy nucleus playoff-built for the next 10 years.

Its been a slow start for the 20-year-old Seguin as hes got only a single assist in his first four games and his power play unit hasnt yet found traction on the young season. But the 19-year-old Hamilton has taken the city of Boston by storm, and found himself in the middle of his first Dougie! Dougie! Dougie! chant on the TD Garden ice in the third period of Friday nights 4-2 win over the New York Islanders.

To say Hamilton was appreciative of the welcoming crowd would be an understatement.

I was going back to get the puck and I thought thats what I heard. I was just trying to not fumble the puck when going back there for it after hearing the chants. It would have been better if I had scored on that play instead of hitting him in the head, said Hamilton, who finished with 16:13 of ice time on 28 shifts. Its obviously nice to have that support from the fans. It is pretty cool.

Just dont ask Hamilton if hes surprised to look up and see that hes got three points in his first four games, and hasnt needed any adjustment period to get things done at the NHL level.

I think you guys in the media are more surprised than I am. I think for me, I didnt have expectations, said Hamilton. I just wanted to come in and do my best. I have gotten a lot of opportunities, and Im playing with a lot of great players. It makes it a lot easier on me.

The offensive defenseman had just authored his second assist of the night on a long outlet pass that turned Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron into fast-breaking forwards, and manufactured a breakaway goal for Bergeron. It was Hamiltons second assist of the evening and the first of should be many multi-point games in his NHL career.

His first helper arrived on the teams first goal of the night when he fired a puck from the point that created a big rebound aided by a Daniel Paille tip, and Shawn Thornton shoveled the backhand rebound in for the score.

It's pretty good stuff for a teen-ager that still playing for the Niagara IceDogs a couple of months ago.

Its amazing that hes 19 years old. Its just a number for him on the ice, said Bergeron, who remembers what that was like after being the youngest player in the NHL during his rookie season. You cant tell at all, and his poise is unbelievable, Its great to have him on our side.

Surging from the energy created by the chanting crowd and the TD Garden game operations people going with the obvious Teach Me How to Dougie on the jumbotron, Hamilton fired a puck at the net that seemed destined for his first NHL goal.

But instead the puck clanged off Rick DiPietros helmet for a Grade A bell-ringer, and the youngster was lamenting what might have been afterward.

I think thats why our front office guys drafted him, because they saw a lot of things were seeing right now. We liked his size, we liked the way he moved on the ice, but at the same time, we thought he had real good hockey sense, said Claude Julien. He sees the ice well, he finds the passing lanes and you saw on that goal, breakout out of our own end.

You see the guy scoring, but it all starts from our end, and that was from his pass to Brad Marchand and to Bergy Patrice Bergeron for the breakaway. Those kinds of things are what our scouts saw in him and those kinds of things hes demonstrating right now. You have to be pleased and impressed with a young player playing the way he has been.

Not only is Hamilton not going back to junior hockey with the Bs fifth game of the season coming up Monday in Carolina, but the young defenseman is quickly becoming a game-changing Calder Trophy candidate for the Black and Gold. Its early in the process but Hamilton is tied for third overall among NHL rookies with his three points, and is tied with impressive Edmonton Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz for tops among NHL rookie blueliners.

He gives the Bruins the kind of puck-moving, point-producing defenseman they havent had since a guy that wore No. 77 roamed the ice for the Black and Gold. His teammates have marveled at his offensive skills and his ability to get low, heavy shots from the point through traffic to the net creating rebound chances. Two of his first three career assists have come from that exact scenario after Hamilton shots from the point.

You always like to see the young guys come in with that spark as theyre realizing their lifelong dream to play in the NHL. It wasnt too long ago that I was a 19-year-old first coming into the league and having some fun, said Lucic. But obviously hes at a different level than I was at as a 19-year-old. You look at his ability to make the first pass when its in the defensive zone, neutral zone or in the offensive zone and its great to see.

When we made the trade for Nathan Horton and Campbell we lost a bit of that in Dennis Wideman, and hes definitely brought a lot of that to our defense corps. And thats a defense corps thats already shown they have what it takes to win a Stanley Cup, so hes some extra punch out there for us.

To just think that none of this would be possible if Kessel didnt fold his arms, tramp his feet and demand a trade to Toronto. It's more than a little amusing to everybody except those in the southern Ontario area code.

Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

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Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, after a busy morning celebrating my 3-year-old’s birthday at the trampoline park. Yee-ha.

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri says that adding toughness was a big offseason priority for the Montreal Canadiens.

*There’s at least one big fan of the Edmonton Oilers trade that brought defenseman Adam Larsson from the New Jersey Devils, and that fan’s name is Mark Letestu.

*Here’s everything you need to know about the Ice Guardians movie premiering this fall that takes a long, balanced look at the NHL enforcers.

*Roberto Luongo has an alibi for the robbery in Winnipeg with one suspect getting away in goalie equipment, and it’s funny as you would expect it to be.

*CSN Washington takes a look at the New York Rangers in their season previews for the Metro Division.

*I’m not entirely sure whether this “RIP Harambe” thing is genuine or meant to be ironic by the largely millenial group that seem so enamored with it, but I think it’s just stupid. I think the same with the crying Jordan meme…also stupid.

*For something completely different: a look at how Triumph the Insult Comic Dog learned how to poop on Trump’s politics.

 

Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Danton Heinen.

Danton Heinen exploded into a high-profile prospect for the Bruins after finishing among the NCAA’s top scoring players a couple of years ago as a freshman along with a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin. 

Since then, Heinen has continued to produce offense at the University of Denver and continued to create offense that leads to points. Now, the 21-year-old Heinen will be entering the professional arena for his first full season with the Bruins and he’ll be attempting to transition from the prospect phase to a regular gig in the NHL. That’s the challenge for a talented player who appears headed into a very good opportunity in NHL training camp.

 

What happened last year

Heinen was every bit as explosive in his second season for Denver as he was in his brilliant freshman campaign. He improved on his scoring with 20 goals and 48 points in 41 games. Then Heinen signed with the Bruins at the end of his sophomore season and played in a couple of pro games in the AHL with Providence as a tune-up for this first full pro campaign with the Bruins organization. Heinen finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating in four games with the P-Bruins and showed the coaches in Providence that he was ready to play and produce with more talented players. If Heinen surprised a little bit as a breakout freshman two years ago, his sophomore follow-up in Denver last season proved to everybody that he wasn’t a fluke.

 

Questions to be answered this season

The real question surrounding Heinen is about his ceiling as an NHL player and just how good he can become as a player with the skills and playmaking abilities to be a top-six forward. He’s proven he can dominate at the collegiate level while admittedly playing with some pretty good teammates at Denver. Heinen showed at the end of the season in Providence that the pro scene might not be much different for him. At this point, Heinen simply needs to go out and prove it against the best players in the world and show that his speed, playmaking and hockey sense are all elite in the AHL or NHL. Heinen’s biggest obstacle might be his size. He'll need to survive as a targeted skill player despite not being much more than the 6-feet, 180-pound range for a forward. It’s about average for a playmaking wing in the NHL, but the hits and attention will be at a much more intense level than anything he faced in the NCAA world.

 

What they're saying

“He’s the type of player that he can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ and he’s got really good skill. I think anywhere you put him, he’s smart enough to figure it out. I think you’ll notice him during training camp. It will definitely be up to him, but I think he’ll push some guys.” –Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo on Heinen during last month’s development camp where Heinen soared as a performer.

 
Outlook

While Heinen still has some things he’ll need to prove before he’s a regular contributor for the Bruins, he comes into the Boston fold as an experienced player following two very good seasons at the college level. So, Heinen should be a little closer to plug-and-play for Claude Julien than some of the other young players that have come through the system in the past couple of years. Heinen will still need to flash in camp while being handed a big spot to perform with high-end veterans Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand potentially off playing in the World Cup of Hockey. Heinen also has a much greater chance of winning an NHL job sooner rather than later after the Bruins lost out on the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes and still have a top-six forward opening that somebody is going to fill. Heinen and Frank Vatrano are the two biggest favorites to fill that position, which became vacant when Loui Eriksson departed for Vancouver. Whichever winger loses that battle should be also be a strong candidate for a role on the third line, as well, barring any late veteran signings by the B’s. That set of circumstances leaves a very good situation for Heinen to potentially walk into with the Black and Gold, but he'll still have to show he’s fully capable of seizing his good fortune and good timing.