In the fifth and final installment of Isles On the Clock, we take a look at Dougie Hamilton of the Niagara IceDogs (OHL).
Born Jun 17 1993 Toronto, Ontario
Height: 6'4" / Weight:193 / Shoots: R
What NHL Central Scouting is saying:
NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards
"He moves the puck well and makes good outlet passes, he does make good decisions with the puck, moves it very well out of his zone. He's a big guy, he'll take the body. … He uses his size well. He can muscle people off the puck."
Dougie Hamilton might not come with the amount of hype that some of the others in this draft do, but he absolutely deserves that kind of recognition.
The fact is, the guy can flat out play.
Hamilton notched 58 points and a remarkable plus-35 rating in 2010-11 for the Ice Dogs. By season's end, he was the fourth-ranked North American skater by NHL CSS.
He also has character—something that has become a buzz word of sorts for the New York Islanders and their scouting staff—having been touted as a natural leader and a very smart hockey player.
In fact, the OHL named him the 2011 Scholastic Player of the Year—the award given to the player who has the best-overall academic performance. I'll let the OHL clarify its significance:
"Hamilton, a 17-year-old from Toronto, ON, attends Governor Simcoe Secondary School in St. Catharines where he maintains an overall academic average of 94% in six Grade 12 level courses including marks of 97% in Calculus, 95% in Physics, 95% in Personal and Fitness, 92% in English, 92% in Biology and 91% in Chemistry. This is Hamilton’s second straight Academic Award after winning the Ivan Tennant Memorial Award in his rookie season."
What's most intriguing about Hamiton, is that he has a rare combination of size and offensive ability. At 6'4", Hamilton can be a physical presence, but also has the mobility and puck-moving skills of a smaller, offensive defenseman.
As Dougie's coach in Niagara puts it:
Niagara IceDogs head coach Marty Williamson
"Especially at this level, you find guys that are awkward or don't have a lot of explosion. You're 6-foot-4, you don't have a lot of explosion (but) the jump off his skates is phenomenal. When he sees those opportunities to jump into the rush or lead the rush, I really believe it's untapped what he can do. He's a very special defenseman in our league. He just has to understand the details and he's going to be a very good pro . . . Dougie gets himself very prepared for hockey games. He's very diligent preparing himself. He goes about it very business-like. He's mature beyond his years.”
In terms of offensive production, Hamilton might not put up the type of numbers that Ryan Murphy has, but he has the better all-around game—and it's not even close.
He's the second-best defenseman in this draft class—at least the way I see it. When you consider that Adam Larsson—the near-unanimous top blueliner from the prospect pool—is 6'3" and plays that two-way, Nicklas Lidstrom style, and that Hamilton's game is eerily similar (and he excels at it), you'll see that such an idea isn't very far-fetched.
When trying to find an NHL parallel for Hamilton, think Jay Bouwmeester of the Calgary Flames.
Bouwmeester is the type of defenseman who's well-positioned and can hit, pass and shoot. Dougie Hamilton can do all of those things, and he projects to be just as good as Bouwmeester, if not better.
I think he's the perfect man for the Islanders, because he's exactly the kind of player that New York lacks in the system. Just take a look at some of our up-and-coming defensive prospects and you'll quickly notice that most of them have one thing in common: They're relatively short, especially for defensemen, and are, almost exclusively, offense-oriented.
Some of the team's more notable blue-chippers:
Calvin de Haan, 6'1"
Matt Donovan, 6'
Aaron Ness, 5'10"
What the Isles need, is a blueliner with an imposing presence.
No disrespect to Calvin de Haan, but he doesn't exactly have opposing forwards running for cover. There isn't a player in this league who's going to say something to the effect of, "I better play dead" when they see de Haan during pre-game warmups.
Still need another reason why selecting Hamilton would be in the Islanders' best interests?
Consider the following:
Each team that has made the Stanley Cup Finals since the lockout had such a player (keep in mind, I'm not necessarily comparing Hamilton to each of these players, just stating the effectiveness of a defenseman with size and, in most cases, skill).
Anton Babchuk was a physical force for the Carolina Hurricanes. On the Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks and Philadelphia Flyers, it was Chris Pronger. The Senators had Anton Volchenkov. For the Detroit Red Wings, Nicklas Kronwall was the big man. The Penguins had Brooks Orpik. The Blackhawks had Brent Seabrook.
Some of those guys had offensive ability, some did not. The point is, even the ones without managed to be key factors for their respective teams.
So, if the opportunity to draft such a player exists, how could the Islanders take a pass on it?
Garth Snow shouldn't, and I really hope that Dougie Hamilton gets an Isles sweater at the upcoming draft. He's the real deal, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Comments are welcome.