Hamilton ready for big boy B's camp

191545.jpg

Hamilton ready for big boy B's camp

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

WILMINGTON Dougie Hamilton is in a pretty comfortable spot for his first trip through NHL training camp.

The 18-year-old first round pick will have the attention and cachet that goes along with being a first round pick and hot young prospect, but the 6-foot-5 defenseman isnt expected to seriously threaten for a roster spot with the team that eventually breaks training camp.

So instead Hamilton will go about his business in the background amid a veteran group of Cup-worthy skaters starting on Saturday, and learn from an ideal group of veteran blueliners like Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg.

Thats simply a great spot to be in for a youngster willing to learn.

Hamilton will eventually return to the Niagara Ice Dogs for another season of junior hockey, possibly take part in the World Junior tournament as a member of Team Canada and add a little more size and strength to his lengthy frame before returning to Boston this time next year.

The coordination, skill, skating speed and physical attributes that made him a top draft pick are all there, but Hamilton needs to simply put them all together while amping his brain up to the increased pace of play around him at the NHL level. It wont happen overnight, but Hamilton is confident that it will happen.

Next week is going to be another step up, and then when I go back to Niagara Ill be that many steps ahead, said Hamilton, referring to the inevitable day when he exits NHL camp for another season in the OHL. Its time to play hockey and its the season. Youre expected to be in top performance here.

Ive seen the veterans on the ice a couple of times and in the changing room. A few months ago you were watching them on TV and now youre trying to be teammates with them. So thats pretty special.

Hamilton wont have the same crowds of media around him that he did at the prospect camp once the real Bruins arrive, and the polished youngster wont have a microscope trained on him each time he touches the puck in practice.

Hell instead simply be able to play hockey.

Thats what the Bruins front office wants to see out of their promising young defenseman after watching Hamilton put up a commendable effort in the first rookie game against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. Hamilton made some plays and showed some poise, but theres also a big ceiling hell be able to reach given his talent, intelligence and work ethic.

He just needs to go through a camp and see the strength and speed of the NHL players, said Bruins assistant GM Jim Benning. Hes involved in a process where theres no pressure for him. He can just go out there and play his game and learn. Well see how he does and review where hes at.
But for him itll just be a good learning experience because hell see how strong and how fast the NHL players are.

Gifted natural scorers like Jared Knight and rookie game scoring machine Ryan Spooner might feel more like a job sits on the line with each up and down in training camp, but thats roller coaster is a little down the road for Hamilton.

For an 18-year-old thats already had a pretty good year, the NHL training camp is akin to dipping his toes in the water before coming back next season to execute a cannonball into the Bs swimming pool.

As it should be for the talented Hamilton.

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

Sweeney on chasing Stamkos, Lucic: 'We will make all the calls'

28_sweeney.png

Sweeney on chasing Stamkos, Lucic: 'We will make all the calls'

BUFFALO – While it certainly doesn’t feel like there’s any chance of it realistically happening, the Bruins plan to reach out to some of the bigger fish on the free agent market with roughly $21 million in cap space to work with.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney lost out on a defenseman trade target in Dmitry Kulikov on Saturday when he was dealt by the Panthers to the Buffalo Sabres and appears far away from acquiring top D-man target Kevin Shattenkirk.

So, the Bruins will turn their attention to the free agent market opening on July 1, and with that in mind Sweeney didn’t rule out the Bruins making a run at Stephen Stamkos, or potentially welcoming back power forward Milan Lucic.

“The interview period has already begun, and we were on the phone today with players that we had targeted. It was our first opportunity to speak with them, and see if things line up. It will play out over the next few days and we will be aggressive about it because we want to improve,” said Sweeney, who was adamant that the Bruins would make all the necessary exploratory phone calls when specifically asked about both Stamkos and Lucic. “We will take the temperature of whoever will help our hockey club, and it if lines up then that’s what we’d like to do.

“There are a lot of coveted ones on the market, and we will make all of the calls. It’s everybody. The city would embrace it, and the organization has great respect for [Lucic]. So there’s no question that we would explore all players.”

There may be some sentimental interest from Lucic's camp in returning to Boston, but there's also a sense the left wing has become comfortable back on his native West Coast. The Canucks in his home city of Vancouver and the Edmonton Oilers are expected to push hard for his punishing, board-rattling services. Wooing Stamkos would be particularly difficult given that the Bruins seem years away from truly competing for a Stanley Cup and have two frontline centers in Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.

While either one would certainly help a Black and Gold team likely to be losing Loui Eriksson in free agency, much of their existing cap space is going to be eaten up by a contract extension for RFA Torey Krug, a deal for whatever replacement they have in mind for Eriksson should he sign with a different team and the top-four defenseman that Boston has needed since trading Dougie Hamilton at last June’s draft weekend in Florida. 

Bruins wrap up draft by picking Koppanen, Clarke, Steen

boston-bruins-don-sweeney-draft-062516.jpg

Bruins wrap up draft by picking Koppanen, Clarke, Steen

BUFFALO – The Bruins continued their drafting of big centers, defenseman and potential bottom-six forwards on Day 2 of the NHL draft with their final three selections,  including a pair of European prospects.

With back-to-back picks in the fifth round, the Bruins took 6-foot-5 Finnish center Joona Koppanen with the 135th pick, then tapped 20-year-old late-blooming defenseman Cameron Clarke with the next pick. The big-bodied, defense-minded Koppanen sounded quite a bit like fellow countrymen and ex-Bruin Joonas Kemppainen as an overall player, but clearly the Bruins are hoping he can develop more of his offensive game over the next few years.

A 5-foot-9, 187-pound Swedish forward Oskar Steen was the pick in the sixth round. The Bruins then traded their 2016 seventh-round pick to the Florida Panthers for a seventh-round pick in 2017.

Add those three players to the first three players selected in the first two rounds (Charlie McAvoy, Trent Frederic and Ryan Lindgren), and the Bruins clearly pursued big, bottom-six centers and defensemen as their main target areas.

“I think we addressed the defensive part of our game, and we addressed our centermen. We got some speed and some compete, and those are things [we liked] from all of us,” said Bruins head of scouting Keith Gretzky. “Charlie likes to get up and give the big hits, and makes big plays with the puck. He was a young kid that played in an older league, and you’ve got to have the ability to do that. His game just got better as the year went along.

“With [Frederic] we wanted a center with some size and heaviness, and we really believe he’s going to a good program. His teammates all talked highly of him, and character is a very big thing. You want guys that will pay the price, and when you look at him and Lindgren [those are the type of guys]. Lindgren isn’t the most skilled guy like McAvoy, but he brought an element that we really liked as an organization. We believe he’s a leader, and you win with those guys.”

All six of the players will be in Boston for development camp a couple of weeks from now, along with the rest of the Black and Gold prospect group. 
 

Bruins select hard-nosed D-man Lindgren with second-round pick

boston-bruins-ryan-lindgren-nhl-draft-062516.jpg

Bruins select hard-nosed D-man Lindgren with second-round pick

BUFFALO – The Bruins went back for another young defenseman with the 49th overall pick in the second round and drafted Minnesota-born Ryan Lindgren, who will be playing for the Gophers this season as another college hockey product in the B’s system.

The 6-foot, 198-pound Lindgren is a hard-nosed, high-character defenseman that didn’t blow away scouts with any one tool, but was solid with six goals and 25 points in 61 games for the US National Development Team Program Under-18 team last season.

Lindgren has good hockey bloodlines as the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens goalie Charlie Lindgren and would be more of a solid all-around defenseman rather than an offensive D-man like first-round pick Charlie McAvoy.

“I honestly could not be more excited,” said Lindgren. “They are one of the teams that seemed like they had a lot of interest in me. When you get selected by a team like the Boston Bruins, everyone knows what a great organization they are. I really could not be more excited.

“I think I’m a leader on and off the ice, and bring a good compete level. I bring it every day. I think more of a defensive defenseman, but I think I’ve got some offensive ability in my game as well. I’m a guy who’s going to be physical, going to bring it every game, block shots. [I am] going to do what he has to do to help the team.”

The choice of Lindgren is a nice bounce-back pick for the Bruins on Day 2 after reaching a bit for Trent Frederic at the end of the first round on Friday night. The Bruins could end up regretting that choice if second-round picks such as Alex DeBrincat or Pascal Laberge end up developing into high-end forwards in the NHL.