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Boston Bruins Year in Review: Dougie Hamilton

May 18, 2015, 11:35 AM ET [31 Comments]
Ty Anderson
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The 2014-15 season was a year of hits and misses for the Black and Gold.

In spite of a 96-point season, the Bruins saw their seven-year postseason streak come to an end, realized that their core may be aging faster than they originally anticipated, and ultimately saw their general manager take the fall for the club’s shortcomings. In the month of May, we’ll take a look at the season of every player on the B’s and their future with the club heading on into 2015-16.

The series rolls on with the club’s No. 1 defenseman of the future, Dougie Hamilton.

The Basics

Player: Dougie Hamilton
Age: 21
2014-15 Stats: Seven goals, 28 points, plus-6 rating in 80 games played.
Contract: $1.494 million cap-hit through 2014-15 season.
How he got here: Drafted by Boston Bruins with 9th overall pick in 2011 NHL Draft (pick originally belonged to Toronto Maple Leafs, sent to Boston in Phil Kessel trade).

Overview

If you predicted a breakout year for Boston defender Dougie Hamilton in his third year of professional hockey, congratulations, you are a citizen of Earth. Following Hamilton’s sophomore campaign that featured seven goals and 25 points in 64 games, including a jump to Boston’s top-pairing by the end of the season, 2014-15 was dubbed the year of Dougie before it even began.

In all fairness, they were not wrong.

A fixture on the B’s top-pairing following the preseason, cap-clearing trade of Johnny Boychuk, the 6-foot-5 blueliner became a force opposite B’s captain Zdeno Chara. Finishing the year with 42 points, Hamilton was one of 27 NHL defenders to record at least 40 points (Hamilton was 23rd on that list), and his 15 power-play points (also 23rd among NHL d-men) were definitely respectable, especially when you consider the mediocrity that was the B’s power play this past season.

Hamilton also took huge strides in his defensive zone game, as well, proving to be more than a Chara-protected puck-mover in his own end. He held his own, in fact. Of course, as is the case with any third-year pro (or 10-year pro for that matter), there were moments when Hamilton seemed a bit overwhelmed or made a mistake that ended in the back of the Boston net. But his d-zone impact was definitely felt way more in 2014-15 than in his previous two NHL seasons, and against much tougher assignments than what he was accustomed to in his first two years on most nights, too.

“I think I improved. I think for me, I still think I can get better and improve,” Hamilton said on break-up day at TD Garden. “I think that’s what kind of excites me and for me now I just want to take advantage of the summer right now and get better and come back a better player next year.”

Dougie’s ‘Big Year’ ended on a sour note, however, with Hamilton missing the final 10 games of the year with an undisclosed injury that was spilled to the press by Celtics player Kelly Olynyk. (Weird.)

It seems like only yesterday that Hamilton arrived to the Hub a timid, lanky kid that was trying to crack a Boston roster, a blueline loaded with Cup-winning veterans, by the way -- on a full-time basis. His progression over that time has been a pleasant surprise to everyone, including No. 27 himself.

“I think it’s crazy how it’s been two and a half years already and personally I think I’ve gotten a lot better in every aspect and more comfortable in everything,” Hamilton said. “It’s exciting to see that growth. It’s just trying to get better every year and keep improving. Hopefully I can keep doing that.”

The Good

Terror struck the Hub when Chara torn a ligament in his knee in an Oct. 23 loss to the New York Islanders. But Hamilton, the interim face of the Boston defensive six, relished the opportunity. In the Bruins’ first six games with Chara out of action, Hamilton recorded a ridiculous two goals and eight points along with 16 shots on net. It was perhaps his best stretch of play during the year in terms of point production, and came at a time when the Black and Gold needed it the most.

Another random positive? Any time Hamilton suited up for a game against the Buffalo Sabres. In four games against the league-worst Sabres in 2014-15, Hamilton recorded three goals and six points.

The Bad

After scoring eight times in the first 47 contests of the year, Hamilton finished the season with just two goals in his last 25 games before an injury cut his season short. This was a trend for most Bruins players at the end of the year, so you really can’t crucify Hamilton over it (he found other ways to produce), of course, but it still hurt the B’s chances to solidify a playoff spot, y’know, for good.

The Black and Gold were also a mediocre 5-3-2 (12 of a possible 20 points) with Hamilton out of the lineup, and when 20-19-5 when Hamilton dressed but failed to record a point in the game.

The Future

It’s the biggest question surrounding the Club on Causeway St this summer: What can and will the Black and Gold pay Hamilton this summer? Of course, the Bruins will need to name a general manager first, but it’s 100% guaranteed that Hamilton will remain with the B’s. I know that he’s a restricted free agent and that a team could try to poach him away from the Bruins with an offer-sheet, but let’s be real about both that: they almost never, ever happen in today’s NHL. And even if a team does try to do that, I’m 100% convinced that the Bruins would match. (Two 100%’s in one blog, so of course this means that I’ll be wrong because the Universe has never really cared for me, you guys.)

As I’ve said since Day 1, I think you’ll see the Bruins ‘overpay’ in a way (both years and term) to save themselves from Hamilton becoming an unrestricted free agency sooner than he would. On that front, a six-year deal worth $30-32 million makes some sense. But the idea of a bridge deal -- much like the one signed by P.K. Subban before his mega-deal with the Canadiens -- while the Bruins work their way out of some heavy cap turmoil isn’t out of the realm of possibility, either. I’m clueless, really.

Previous Bruins Year in Reviews
Gregory Campbell
Brett Connolly
Milan Lucic
Reilly Smith
Danny Paille
Loui Eriksson
Chris Kelly

Ty Anderson has been covering the Boston Bruins for HockeyBuzz.com since 2010, is a member of the Pro Hockey Writers Association's Boston Chapter, and can be contacted on Twitter, or emailed at Ty.AndersonHB[at]gmail.com
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