The Boston Bruins lost Dougie Hamilton.
All the signs were there that he would develop into a top two right hand shot D, with a knack for scoring – a rare commodity indeed. But the Bruins passed on Hamilton’s first RFA contract in 2015 at age 22, ostensibly for salary cap reasons. But why? It’s a curious case.
The Next Bobby Orr
Drafted ninth overall by Boston in the 2011 NHL entry draft, Hamilton was a big, rangy RH shot D with the potential to be a top four D in the NHL. Or, just maybe, the next Bobby Orr, the consensus number one athlete of all time in Boston.
To be sure, he needed development. And that’s what you commit to when you sign young D. So, maybe not the next Bobby Orr, but wait.
Before his 20th birthday he had his first NHL points, and his first Stanley Cup playoff experience. There was potential for him to get ahead of himself as the league adjusted to him and he moved up in the lineup. Over the next three years he developed steadily into a point producing young RH D with even more potential. His stat lines were not all that different than Orr’s.
Bronx cheer, in Boston
In 2015 Boston gave Dougie the Bronx cheer. The B’s balked at his value at around 5.5M AAV as an RFA, and Calgary jumped at the opportunity. In Calgary, Hamilton has been touted as a core piece. He continued to develop and score. He continued to have good puck possession numbers, though he was paired with Giordano mostly. All in a team with a really bad goal differential in Calgary. He seems to be developing, though obviously he is not the next Orr – a standard reserved for only the best few NHL players.
More and more curious
Hamilton is technically on a continuing arc of development that sees him squarely in a very sweet spot when he matures as an NHL defenseman around age 27. Calgary should be awash with satisfaction that they pulled this caliber of player from under Boston’s nose. But, curiously, they are not.
Hamilton continues to lag in ice time at under 20 minutes a game, fourth in Calgary’s D lineup. He continued to have minor comments made about his lack of leadership, and his status in the room. He continues to be the talk of trade rumors. And he continues to cost the Flames just as much in AAV as Burns, Byfuglien and Seabrook – who have over a thousand games and multiple Stanley Cups to their name, and whose achievements and leadership are not in question.
Right shot, Fight not
According to hockeyfights.com, Hamilton has a grand total of two NHL fights, one with Max Domi, and one with Gabriel Landeskog. But, Calgary, as a team is fourth in the NHL with 35 total fights in the 2016/17 season. A fairly truculent team, as Brian Burke might say. But not Hamilton. Is he the heir apparent to the Captain, Mark Giordano? It doesn’t look like it. According to Bruce Arthur on November 30 2016 writing for thestar.com, Hamilton’s stock is sinking in Calgary due to his lack of mental toughness, and for his inability to fit in.
Bottom line, pine
Boston lost on Dougie Hamilton. They lost the opportunity to develop a very capable young D-man. They lost that opportunity when they failed to identify his lack of leadership ability from the draft, through to the end of his entry level contract. Maybe blinded by the stat line, maybe in the shadow of Orr – I don’t know. But The B’s, in my opinion, lost this D-man of their own accord – unable to find the value within his lack of character, and unable to develop that leadership trait. Calgary thought they had a developed D-man when they signed him in 2015. The stat line looked good, but they lacked the due diligence on Hamilton’s character, and have been unable to further develop his leadership.
All-in-all, the curious case of Dougie Hamilton continues. The Bruins lost, the Flames bought, and Hamilton may be on to his third NHL team before he’s 26.