Saturday, November 29, 2014

Dougie Hamilton Jersey Card

One thing we have learned during Zdeno Chara's prolonged absence from the Boston Bruins' blue line - apart from the dangers of trading away the largest part of your depth to a team that will end up in first place because of it - is that Dougie Hamilton is ready for a bigger role, at just 21 years of age.

I tend to want to take my time in analyzing defensemen, particularly those who were already 6'5'' and 195 pounds when they were teenagers, but the quick towering defender with the hard shot looks like he's ready to enter the top-4 on a permanent basis, and take it from there to soon enter the top-2. He's definitely earned his powerplay time, and even scored the overtime winner against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night.

Forever linked the the trade that sent Phil Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs for the picks the Bruins selected him, Tyler Seguin, and Jared Knight with, we hear a lot about what ''could have been'' for the Leafs, but that's a completely false debate.

First off, I'll always gladly shit all over the Leafs when they deserve it, but that trade brought them more than a fair return, simply because Kessel is currently in his fifth season with the team, is and has been their only actual legitimate first-liner since Mats Sundin left, scored 30 goals or more every single year except the lockout-shortened one, and has been their first consistent ''star'' winger since Wendel Clark in the 1980s.

Secondly, Seguin's gone from Boston, because he was immature and didn't fit with the defense-first, thuggish Bruins style of play.

And lastly, who's to say the Leafs would even have taken Hamilton with the 9th pick in 2011, what with Jonas Brodin (10th), Sven Baertschi (13th), Nathan Beaulieu (17th), Joe Morrow (23rd), Matt Puempel (24th), Vladislav Namestnikov (27th), Tomas Jurco (35th), John Gibson (39th), Xavier Ouellet (48th), Keegan Lowe (73rd), Jean-Gabriel Pageau (96th), Reid Boucher (99th), and Johnny Gaudreau (104th) still being available?

The facts say that Hamilton, in his third season with the Bs, went from playing 17 minutes per game in his rookie season to 19 last year to over 22 this year, contributing 12 points in 23 games so far; his 4 goals are more than half-way that of last year's in just a third of the games played, and he already has 2 powerplay goals, equal the amount of each of his previous seasons.

All this in a year considered ''tough'' by the media and most Bruins fans.

There were comparisons with Chis Pronger because of his size at first, but he hasn't been all that physical as of yet, using his long reach to poke or steal the puck instead. I won't jump on the bandwagon of calling him ''one of the NHL's best defensemen'', but it's easy to see him put up 45-60 points for a decade, with one or two peaks near 70 and earning Norris talk, but let's not forget about the guys who are already in those talks and are still relatively young, such as Shea Weber, Drew Doughty and P.K. Subban, who will earn nominations for a long time, as will Duncan Keith, Niklas Kronwall, Alex Pietrangelo and perhaps even Tyson Barrie.

That being said, Hamilton looks to be a key part of Boston's defense for as long as he wants to stay there, which means this card might even inadvertently have company in my collection in the next few years:
It's card #RF-DH from the Rookie Fabrics sub-set of Upper Deck's 2013-14 SP Game-Used Edition collection, showing him wearing the Bruins' white (away) uniform, with a black event-worn (photo shoot) jersey swatch.

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