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.