Boston Bruins

Hamill making it work for Bruins


Hamill making it work for Bruins

WILMINGTON Zach Hamill has the kind of perseverance story that people in Boston love.

The 23-year-old didnt meet immediate success when he joined the Boston Bruins organization despite being the No. 8 overall pick in the 2007 Draft, but hes finally carving out a niche for himself in his fourth professional season. Hamill may never be the high-powered, Marc Savard-type center that some thought hed develop into when he was originally targeted following the disastrous Dave Lewis Error, but hes become something of a jack-of-all-trades forward.

It was slightly revealing Monday night when Hamill was in the lineup against the Montreal Canadiens ahead of 20-year-old Jordan Caron, who made the team out of training camp. Theres little denying that Hamill has seized a chance to prove himself by making plays with every opportunity hes been given in six games with the Bs this season: a pair of assists with a plus-5 rating and ice time thats climbed in each of his most recent four games with Boston.

Hamill has forced his way back onto the NHL radar after a pair of mediocre 40-something point AHL seasons.

Hes created a really good situation for himself," coach Claude Julien said. "Hes playing really good hockey every game hes been in with us this year. Its encouraging for us to see a player thats developed. You dont always have to be a great player in your first year, but if you give yourself some time and the organization has been pretty patient with him hes also put in the work to make himself a better player.

Right now hes rewarded us with some solid games. Hes created a nice situation for himself here and were just happy thats hes playing well.

Hamill is developing into the kind of useful player the Bruins can plug into any of their lines at the wing or center, and hes giving them responsible three-zone play and the ability to make plays. The extended audition in Boston will go on a little longer as Hamill was switched from emergency recall to regular recall, and has exactly five more games with Boston before he would need to clear through re-entry waivers.

So Hamill is showing the Bruins and the rest of the NHL what he could offer in a versatile role at an affordable cap hit, and his trade value is rising around the league. Its actually the perfect scenario: Hamill can forge an identity for himself as an NHL-caliber player over a month-long period and the Bruins can buy some time for banged up players like Rich Peverley to keep them fresh.

If Milan Lucic gets banged with a one-game suspension, then here comes Hamill to sponge up some shifts with David Krejci and Nathan Horton.

Hamill wont be going anywhere, of course, while the NHL holiday roster freeze is in effect from now until Dec. 27 a day before the Bruins hit the road to tangle with the Phoenix Coyotes on their first West Coast trip of the season. He picked up power play time along with the shifts alongside Krejci and Horton during the Bs win over the Habs on Monday night a pair of moves by the coaching staff that demonstrate the kind of confidence building in the young player.

In words that will be music to Juliens ears, however, Hamill was kicking himself after the Montreal for letting up a goal while he on the ice for the first time in 10 NHL games with the Bruins.

Its what I really wanted to do -- gain the trust of the coaching staff," Hamill said. "With Looch out it was a chance for me to step up there. I just want to play my game. I came up here and I just wanted to play well in all three zones and I think thats what Ive done. Its something Ive really always taken pride in, not getting scored on. That goal was actually the first against me since Ive been up here. So thats frustrating a little bit.

He now has an assist and a plus-2 in four games during his most recent promotion, and it appears the Bruins have unlocked some of that potential. Hamills increased physical strength and maturity have aided him in his development, but his ability to carry out different tasks on the ice has been at the top of the list.

Hamill can play an energy role or set up natural born scorers with creative playmaking, he can kill penalties with speed and craftiness and the power play off the half-wall seems like a natural fit for someone with his passing abilities.

The Bruins wisely moved him to the wing to start this season in the first of a series of circumstances that have opened things up for Hamill. There was too much quality and too much depth at the NHL level for Hamill to fight through if he was working strictly at center. But his willingness to jump around to different roles and positions speaks volumes about the hunger to earn himself a permanent job in The Show.

Hamill has said in several instances that he wants to remain in Boston even if that means routinely battling for a roster spot or a place in the lineup, but it may get to the point where his value is greater elsewhere in a league where concussions and injuries are opening up opportunities everywhere.

With a high ceiling and a current low price tag entering restricted free agency following the season, Hamill looks like hes playing himself into an NHL role here or elsewhere. The biggest question now is, which NHL team has been watching? Who is going to call on Hamill before hes exposed to re-entry waivers?

Hamill made it through re-entry waivers at the end of training camp this fall, but that doesnt seem like it will be the case again this time around after showing signs that hes beginning to get it before it was too late.

Morning Skate: Kassian completes transition from villain to hero for Oilers


Morning Skate: Kassian completes transition from villain to hero for Oilers

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling that US democracy still works even there are extreme factors that our founding fathers couldn’t possibly have imagined. 


*Edmonton Oilers reclamation project Zack Kassian continues his journey from villain to hero in the eyes of the Oil Faithful. 


*Old warrior Chris Neil is weighing NHL offers right now along with a number of other older veterans still waiting for the right situation to present itself for next season. Many of these veterans are probably going to have to report to training camps on tryout agreements and beat out younger players for jobs, and that may be exactly what happens with a grizzled, tough old bird like Neil. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bruins bring in a veteran or two on PTO agreements in camp, and that could be the ultimate fate for guys like Neil, Jarome Iginla, Shane Doan and even Thomas Vanek. 


*The Vegas Golden Knights are still looking to inspire with a developing locker room message as their maiden voyage still awaits this season. 


*PHT writer James O’Brien has longtime Habs defenseman Andrei Markov leaving for the KHL after he couldn’t come to an agreement to stay in Montreal with the Canadiens. 


*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ryan Kennedy has a prospects mailbag at this quiet point in the summer, and he’s very, very high on Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat. 


*The Hockey News details why somebody needs to step up and sign the legendary Jaromir Jagr as one of the aforementioned veteran forwards still looking for a job. 


*For something completely different: Solid Steve Lattimer reference in this Pro Football Talk story about performance enhancing drugs. 

Morning Skate: Star players must get more involved in CBA negotiations to make Olympics a reality


Morning Skate: Star players must get more involved in CBA negotiations to make Olympics a reality

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling that we’re just now learning about the massive rap skills of the brotherly duo of Andrew and Pete Frates. 


*Ken Campbell from the Hockey News says that if influential players, like Connor McDavid, want to go to the Olympics then they need to get more involved in the CBA negotiations


*Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang shows what a class act he is by taking the Stanley Cup to a children’s hospital in Montreal.


*PHT writer James O’Brien has the Minnesota Wild looking to find long term deals for both restricted free agents Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter. That was pretty clear when they chose to deal off Marco Scandella in order to clear up some cap space to afford both of them. 


*The Edmonton Oilers are going to face higher expectations for next season, and are willing to embrace that kind of pressure.


*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Craig Custance wonders aloud whether there will be any offer sheets coming for restricted free agents. I appreciate Craig wanting to add a little more intrigue to the NHL’s offseason, but it isn’t going to happen as long as GMs are treated like they have small pox once they go that route with an offer sheet. Take a look at the future job prospects for general managers that went with offer sheets in the past, and you’ll see why GMs simply don’t do them. This is why the Bruins are uncomfortable with David Pastrnak sitting unsigned as a restricted free agent, but not overly concerned that he’s going to sign a mega-offer sheet elsewhere.  


*The CCM hockey brand is apparently changing hands from its former home at Adidas


*For something completely different: Speaking of Pete Frates, MLB has announced a fundraising drive for ALS research in his name.