Last season, Dougie Hamilton's third with the Niagara IceDogs, his point total jumped to a career-best 72. He put up that total in just 50 games, including 17 goals. It was an impressive offensive outburst for a 6-foot-5 defenseman selected with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2011 draft.
It's also just fine with the Boston Bruins if he doesn't repeat that season offensively. They'd probably prefer he didn't.
During conversations at camps and visits to see him in junior, Bruins management has been consistent in its message to him: Play your game, but you don't have to generate a ton of points to impress us. Push the puck, but don't push it too far.
In his final season in the Ontario Hockey League, Bruins management wants him to play the kind of pro game he'll have to play at the NHL level to make the team in Boston. And that's not a game that piles up points.
"He's going through a bit of a metamorphosis to get his foot in the door with us," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said Thursday. Like every other GM in the league, Chiarelli has a little extra time on his hands right now, so he's been able to scout more. He went to Peterborough, Ontario, a couple of weeks ago to watch Hamilton play, and he saw a player who was clearly getting the message.
"He knew we were coming, and that probably had something to do with it," Chiarelli said with a laugh. "But I saw responsible game management from him. It was nice. It was good to see."
It was important to see. If there is an NHL season this year, it will be accompanied by a shortened training camp. Real short. Most likely, it'll be a week to 10 days.
So this time with Niagara is essentially Hamilton's Bruins training camp tryout. Like every team, the Bruins were asked to submit a list of junior players they would like to pull out of competition for training camp when hockey returns. They were asked to keep the list short, and they did. They have the option to bring in Malcolm Subban, but that'll happen only if there's an injury in goal for Boston.
"Dougie was effectively our only player," Chiarelli said of the list.
Hamilton will get every opportunity to make the team. The Bruins hope he makes the team. Now, as the lockout extends into its second month, he gets the time to prove he's ready.
Once he receives his shot in the NHL, what do his ceiling and floor look like? Here's a breakdown:
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