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

Haggerty's Morning Skate: Phil Kessel emotional about reaching Stanlery Cup Final

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Haggerty's Morning Skate: Phil Kessel emotional about reaching Stanlery Cup Final

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while picking the San Jose Sharks over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final.

 

*Patrick Lalime hopped on sports radio in Ottawa, and said the Chris Phillips/Zdeno Chara defense pairing was the best he ever played behind.

 

*Don Cherry had a major problem with Steven Stamkos suiting up and playing in the losing Game 7 to the Penguins.

 

*Phil Kessel gets pretty emotional about finally getting to the Stanley Cup Final after years of struggle in Toronto.

 

*USA Today’s Kevin Allen says the gap between the No. 1 goaltender and the backup isn’t what it used to be.

 

*Speaking the Sharks, the trip back to Pittsburgh for the Cup Final brings back memories for Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

 

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) writer has the news about Dustin Brown getting stripped of the captaincy with the LA Kings.

 

*Bryan Rust was in the AHL to start this season, but much like Mike Sullivan and Matt Murray he killed it for the Penguins in the playoffs.

 

*For something completely different: It’s official that moving Jackie Bradley Jr. in the lineup wasn’t what killed his hitting streak.

Haggerty: Bruins putting a lot of their hopes in one roster fix

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Haggerty: Bruins putting a lot of their hopes in one roster fix

The improvement plan has become as clear as it’s going to be for the Bruins this offseason.

With Bruins general manager Don Sweeney locking up Kevan Miller to a four-year, $10 million deal this week and vowing to sign Torey Krug as well, the Bruins defensemen corps is going to look awfully similar to last season’s misbegotten group.

Almost identical, it would seem.

Sure, Sweeney said on Wednesday that the Bruins are actively seeking out “a transitional defenseman” that’s presumably a little better than 35-year-old journeyman John-Michael Liles, and can be paired with Zdeno Chara as a top duo for next season. It’s the No. 1 priority on the Bruins offseason shopping list just as it was last season once they shipped Dougie Hamilton to Calgary for draft picks and were instead saddled with a fearsome, crippling black hole at the top of their organizational D-man charts.

The trade market has been set to a degree by the Erik Gudbranson trade from the Florida Panthers to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night with Jim Benning giving up a Grade-A center prospect in Jared McCann, a second-round pick and a fourth-round pick in exchange for the 24-year-old top-four defenseman. Per a hockey source with knowledge of the situation, the Bruins were not involved in any talks for the towering Gudbranso. It sounded like the Panthers and Canucks were pretty locked in with each other on making a deal.

That’s an unfortunate product of Boston not being able to match up with the available center prospect that might have interested Florida and having dealt some of those 2016 draft picks on fruitless deadline rental deals for Lee Stempniak and Liles.

So, how difficult will it be to land Kevin Shattenkirk, or Jacob Trouba, or Sami Vatanen, or Tyson Barrie, or any other mobile blueliner able to play big minutes, move pucks and survive against the other team’s best offensive players while being sheltered defensively by Zdeno Chara?

“Time will tell on that one, you know? Either through free agency or through acquisition, it’s a matter of finding a trading partner or finding a match in the marketplace. We’re going to be aggressive,” said Sweeney. “We certainly have identified, we had our pro meetings … I’m not going to give my whole plan out to you today. But we have areas that we want to address in the depth of our organization more likely in the forward position, either on the right wing or the center, or again on the backend. We’re exploring a bunch of different things trade-wise. It’s difficult in this league, but I think that we’re in the position with two first-round picks to be either selecting really good players or to be in the marketplace.”

The Bruins had better hope it’s a miracle-working puck-mover that they bring to Boston because otherwise they are on course for bringing back the same old sorry usual suspects from last season. Miller and Adam McQuaid will be taking up a combined $5.25 million on the salary cap, Krug will have a salary in the range of $5 million per season after watching the B’s largesse in the Miller deal and both Chara and Seidenberg will trudge on as proud, aging warriors well on the back end of their careers after outstanding service in Boston.

That means many defenders, including Joe Morrow and Colin Miller, return. Defense was the clear weakness on the team, which finished 19th in the NHL after being in the bottom third of the league pretty much all season. It was inarguably the worst defensive group of Claude Julien’s 10-year tenure with the Bruins and had major difficulties in all areas ranging from tape-to-tape passes, to coverage breakdowns and good, old-fashioned lost battles in all of the danger areas.

So, with the plan to add one high-caliber “transitional defenseman” already laid out, it’s clear the B’s belief is that will be enough to substantially improve things on the ice.

At least that’s the theory before the bullets start flying next season and Sweeney gave a few perfunctory lines about the team improving in every area.  

“This is a results-oriented business, so we have to get better in areas. We have to improve our roster. I’ve said all along that we need to continue to improve our roster. We’ll be in the marketplace in every different way, shape, or form to try and acquire players that will continue to help us do so,” said Sweeney. “Talking with Claude and going over the time he spent with Butch [Cassidy], through my dealings with Butch, and realizing the development of a lot of the players that have been a part of our roster and success is the transition game and stuff that Butch has brought to the table.

“[It’s] how he saw the game, how he expects players to play and move pucks and work on it every day, is an area that I think he’s going to be an addition to our [coaching] staff and how he sees the game. I think I identified that if Butch was playing in this day and age now, he’d be a very welcome addition to our roster.”

So that’s the plan, folks. The big move of the summer is getting a defenseman they badly need, filling in a few roster spots, signing a good deal of their own players and then hoping for a better result next time around.

Isn’t there some kind of line about insanity and expecting different results with the same cast of characters year in and year out?