WILMINGTON, Mass. — Dougie Hamilton knew he wasn’t perfect when he arrived at the Bruins’ fifth annual development camp last week.
After five days of tough on-ice and off-ice workouts against his fellow Bruins top prospects, he knows exactly what he needs to work on to reach the NHL at some point in the near future.
“A lot of the guys here are older than me, so they’re a lot stronger and faster,” said Hamilton today after camp concluded. “I’m going to have to work on that a bit. It’s kind of the same thing, you go through the OHL and you get drafted and you have to get used to that. It’s just another adjustment here.”
The gangly 6-foot-4 defenseman, who the Bruins selected with the ninth overall pick last month, showed all the skills that were advertised during camp, especially during the two scrimmages Sunday and today. He has excellent vision, uses his reach well and moves pretty well for a a big man. Once he becomes a bigger man, he’ll be exactly what the Bruins want him to be in terms of a defenseman to build around.
“I thought … each day I thought he played better, was more comfortable,” said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. “He walks the line so well, he’s got the poise, I thought he carried the puck a lot in today’s session with strength and confidence. Just, he has the poise, the vision and his passing is good and he’s got size. So by the time he’s ready to play [pro hockey] he’ll be 200-plus [pounds]. So to get a defenseman who’s tall, rangy, and can make those fine offensive plays and still have the range and the ability to play shutdown, because I believe he will have that, obviously it’s a great type of player to have.”
The Bruins paired Hamilton and veteran Tommy Cross, a Boston College incoming senior attending his fourth development camp, on the ice during the first scrimmage and also off the ice as roommates.
“He helped me a lot,” said Hamilton. “Obviously he’s a really good player and one of the leaders here. He kind of leads the way and does the right thing, so you kind of look up to him and follow him.”
Noted Cross: “He’s a great kid. It was fun to play with him, fun to get to know him. … He’s obviously a good talent. He was really asking questions and he listens really well. And I was asking questions of him too.”
Among the highlights of the camp for Hamilton was getting to meet Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and also playing paintball for the first time. When he arrives for Bruins training camp in the fall, Hamilton should have no problem fitting in.
“You just get to know all the staff, all the players. When you come back here, you’re going to have friends here,” he said. “For me, coming in, I really didn’t know anyone. It’s tough. You’ve got to make friends right away and I think I made a few and try to get the guys to like you and try to make friends. It’s going to be fun coming back.”