Hockey Canada is holding its national junior team evaluation camp through Sunday in Edmonton with intentions of getting a read on what players it wants to take to the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship in December.
Among the 17 defensemen in camp is Bruins 2011 first-round draft pick Dougie Hamilton.
Considering Hamilton is one of 10 blueliners who were first-round picks, he’s going to have a dogfight on his hands for a spot on this winter’s roster. As Donna Spencer of the Globe & Mail wrote tonight:
Eric Gudbranson of the Kingston Frontenacs, the lone returning defenceman from the 2011 junior team, was the third overall pick in last year’s NHL draft by Florida.
Nathan Beaulieu (Montreal), Brandon Gormley (Phoenix), Mark Pysyk (Buffalo), Doug Hamilton (Boston), Joe Morrow (Pittsburgh), Ryan Murphy (Carolina), Stuart Percy (Toronto), Duncan Siemens (Colorado) and Jamie Oleksiak (Dallas) are the other first-rounders.
Canada’s recent acquisition of six-foot-seven Oleksiak further bolstered its assets on defence. He was a late addition to Canada’s summer-camp roster when he decided to play under this country’s flag.
Obviously some of the above-mentioned players will make their NHL teams in the fall and won’t be available to Hockey Canada. It’ll still be a pretty deep pool of talent for the powers that be to choose from.
Hamilton will be a long shot to stick around in the NHL, so that could give him a little better chance at making the team and gaining valuable international experience against some of the best talent in the world. The opportunity for Hamilton to play in the WJC might even affect the Bruins’ decision of how long to keep him around during main camp. A fast start with Niagara of the OHL would help Hamilton’s chances, and the sooner he gets there with his teammates, the better.
But it sounds like Hamilton’s all-around solid play could fit comfortably in Team Canada’s roster and system. Head coach Don Hay was quoted by Spencer as saying:
“There’s offensive players, puck movers and there’s more the big-body type of guys. You want a well-rounded group back there. You want to be able to fit your needs and have those players jump in and contribute in the best way they possibly can.”
Although Hay was describing multiple players that would make up a defense corps, Hamilton would seem to fit in several categories at his size and skill level. It’ll be interesting to see what esteem Hamilton is held in by Hockey Canada after this weekend and over the first couple months of the 2011-12 campaign.