ANDOVER, Mass. Claude Julien has made good use of his time while having no hockey club to coach with the NHL in lockout mode.
The Bruins coach and former Jack Adams Award winner has been a regular attendee of both practices and games for the Providence Bruins since camp started at the end of September. He also found time to pay a surprise visit to a girls hockey team at Phillips Andover Academy on Thursday evening, and give the young players a few tips while chatting them up from the bench.
Getting an opportunity to talk to youth hockey players is always great. Today, it was talking to young girls and it kind of reflects on me because I have a daughter thats going to start playing hockey, said Julien. Im really looking forward to that. Just like I told the girls today, its all about having fun at the end of the day.
Julien also just returned from a scouting trip in Canada to watch top prospects Dougie Hamilton and Malcolm Subban play in the OHL. Julien got a chance to see Hamilton up close and personal during last years training camp, but it was his first chance to see the 2012 first-round pick in action between the pipes.
The Bs coach was impressed with Subban, and came away believing that Hamilton has a great chance to play in the NHL this season once the lockout is lifted. The 2011 first-round pick has seven points (three goals, four assists) in eight games to start the year with the Niagara IceDogs, and has a plus-8 rating while working as the most dominant defenseman in the entire OHL.
While its always difficult to gauge how NHL-ready a player could possibly be while watching them as a man-among-boys in a junior league, its also difficult to see Hamilton anywhere but Boston once the regular season gets started.
Ive been quite busy. Ive taken advantage of the situation spending most of last week in Providences camp. I also just got back from the road watching our prospects in Canada in the last few days, said Julien. Dougie was very good. Both of them were good, actually. They did a great job of staying focused.
Dougie is such a big player and hes gotten so much stronger. He was just outstanding. It was impressive to see him. Id say he has a great chance to stick in the NHL. Youve got to give the player a chance to show that he can, and sometimes you dont know until he goes up against stronger players. But what I saw told me that he deserves the opportunity. Id lean more toward him having a great chance to crack the Bruins lineup than not.
Hamilton is already expected to report to Boston from Niagara as soon as the NHL lockout is lifted, and Juliens assessment of his skills simply reinforces that its Dougies roster spot to lose on the defensemen corps.