Hamilton is final piece of Kessel trade

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Hamilton is final piece of Kessel trade

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
MINNEAPOLIS It might officially be time for Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli to close up that fancy embossed envelope and send the Thank You card to Toronto GM Brian Burke for the Phil Kessel deal.

The Bruins used the final draft pick collected in the Kessel deal with Toronto to select 6-foot-4 defenseman Dougie Hamilton a tall, rangy, skilled defenseman that Chiarelli compared to NHL stalwart Rob Blake when pressed and now have 19-year-old Tyler Seguin, enormously talented second round pick Jared Knight and Hamilton to show for a player in Toronto that still has yet to play one postseason game with the Leafs.

There are some within the Bruins organization that get just as bright-eyed speaking about the offensive potential of Knight as they do about Seguin and his elite skating, shooting and playmaking package.

While Seguin and possibly Knight will factor into next seasons Bruins team as dangerous scoring forces at the forward positions, the selection of Hamilton gives the Bruins a solid nucleus of players that should be in Black and Gold for the next 5-10 years once theyve all made it to Boston.

Chiarelli and Co. had brought defensemen prospects Ryan Murphy and Nathan Beaulieu to Boston for interviews and workouts when they thought both would be there for the taking with the No. 9 pick overall. They never brought Hamilton into the Hub for a sit-down because they assumed hed be long gone by the time they selected, so Chiarelli once again played the role of an executive exclaiming with glee that they couldnt believe their good fortune that a player had dropped into their lap.

Chiarelli made a point to mention that the team had never drafted an elite defenseman with their first round picks in each of the last five years, and that this could possibly be the year it happens.

That is exactly what happened.

We basically said that we dont have to bring this fellow in to Boston for an interview, said Chiarelli. If he was there, it was a no-brainer so we didnt have to see anything extra on him. Thats how strongly we feel about him.

Hes a tremendous skater: good offensive instincts, good stick, hes a very smart player on the ice, good range. He has a good, physical side to his game. And hes big and he continues to grow.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame is the typical body of an 18-year-old kid that still needs time to mature and fill out, but the frame can support a lot more muscle that will be added over the next few years. For those reasons Chiarelli assumed that Hamilton wont be able to play in Boston next season, and would likely be headed back to Niagara for another season of refinement in junior hockey.

Hamilton obviously wasnt going to demand he play in Boston next year, and seemed to understand he still had some growth and maturity to go before he was ready to play against grown men in the NHL. The youngster sprouted up two inches and gained 10 pounds last summer, and appears that he might not be done growing into an ideal body type for a defenseman.

Ive grown a lot in the last few years and havent really filled into my body yet. Im still working hard right now in the gym, said Hamilton. I need to work a lot harder and get bigger and that will help with my physical game as well. I think you have to improve everything because the guys in the NHL are a lot better than OHL players.

He did look pretty good last year, however, with 12 goals and 46 assists along with 77 PIMs in 67 games skating for the Ice Dogs, and showed the kind of athleticism assumed with his bloodlines. His father was a bronze medal-winning rower on the Canadian Olympic team and his mother a member of the Canadian Womens Baseball Team when both met during the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Best of all, Hamilton already had his first taste of Boston despite his status as an Ontario kid in the middle of Maple Leafs Nation. Hamilton was among a contingent of top prospects the NHL shuttled to Boston for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals and the teen-ager was blown away by the passion and frenzy of Bruins fans lathered up for their first Cup Final game in nearly 20 years.

We got to go in the dressing room and meet a bunch of the guys, and talk to Tyler Seguin and guys like that, said Hamilton. We just got to watch the game and pregame skate. The fans were basically standing the whole time and cheering, so that picture is in my head right nowits exciting.

There was a twinkle in Hamiltons eye when the prospect of skating with 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara was mentioned to the youngster, and it was pretty clear that Boston made a good impression on him. Hell obviously be with the Bruins for Development Camp when it opens on July 6 and should be a part of rookie training camp in Boston come September, but Hamilton is in the baby giraffe stage that many bigger defensemen find themselves in their late teen-age years.

For a defenseman -- especially for a big defenseman I think hes got to take time to grow into his body, said Chiarelli. You see that a lot with the bigger defenseman in juniors.

Hamilton will get his time in junior hockey to grow into his scouts dream of a defensemen body, and there will be no rush for him to join young players like Seguin, Knight and Co. that are virtually guaranteeing the Bruins will thrive long after this seasons Stanley Cup team is in the rear view mirror.

All it took was one forward-thinking deal to ship away a petulant one-dimensional scorer, and the Bruins have set themselves up for a marvelous run for the foreseeable future. Hamilton was the final piece in that deal, and it is high time Burke got the proper thank you from the Bs brain trust on Causeway Street.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right.