Freddie Hamilton Not Just A Feel-Good Addition

When
your team has lost six of its last seven and have only won three games on the season,
it’s tough to find positives and remain optimistic.

Fortunately
for Heat fans, Freddie Hamilton has provided a small glimmer of hope for a team
waist deep in a bog of frustration and losing. He’s a glimmer of hope of what
fans would like to see the Stockton Heat become when and if they figure out how
to play a complete game – and that’s just what Hamilton provides, a complete
game.

When
the Flames
acquired the
elder Hamilton brother
on October 4, many figured, “hey, it’s a nice
feel-good story to have both brothers in the same organization. They’re finally
together.” However, some, like Damien Cox, even
speculated that Dougie
refused to re-sign in Boston because the Bruins “either couldn’t or wouldn’t”
trade for Freddie’s rights. When asked about these rumours, GM Brad Treliving
said the Flames had been trying to acquire Freddie even prior to making the
deal for Dougie.

We
may never know what happened behind the scenes, but however this story began,
Freddie has been a welcome addition to the Flames organization. He hasn’t just
been the feel-good story we all expected. He’s been much more than that.

FREDDIE’S
IMPACT

Hamilton
is currently tied for second for Heat scoring lead with six points (he’s tied
with Kenny Agostino). But while his stats line looks good, it’s what he brings
to the ice that impresses the most.

He’s
the one player on the Heat who has
shown up to every game and has controlled the pace of the play when he’s on the
ice. Like most players who aren’t enormously gifted with natural skill, he’s
learned to channel his energy into making life hell for opposing players. He’s
not a pest like, say, Ryan Lomberg. He’s not a speedster like Paul Byron. He
simply puts in honest shifts game after game. He’s your prototypical third- or
fourth-line energy/grinder, but has a touch of offense, a solid defensive game
and has no concern for his body when he plays.

The
question we have to ask is: Does he look good right now because everyone around
him is struggling or does he look good because he is good?

Hopefully we’ll have a clearer answer to that question in the coming months.

Ryan
Huska has used Hamilton’s line as somewhat of a ‘fixer’ line. When the game is
getting out of hand (which seems to be a lot these days), like the sun rising
every morning you can expect to see Freddie’s line out there spending 40-50
seconds in the opposing zone. This effect seems to connect the booster cables
on the engine, so to speak.

Stockton’s
coaching staff has a way of identifying players as the ‘fixers’ and playing
them to their abilities. Last season, Garnet Hathaway seemed to be that player
all season. Turner Elson was another. Even known agitator Mathieu Tousignant
was used periodically in this role. So it’s unsurprising to see Huska identify
a player like Freddie Hamilton and utilize his innate abilities to benefit the
whole.

FUTURE
WITH THE FLAMES?

At
just 23 years old, it’s safe to say Hamilton is currently in his prime or
nearing it. And while age isn’t always an accurate reflection of ability, he
has both on his side.

Hamilton
has 29 NHL games under his belt with the San Jose Sharks and the Colorado
Avalanche, but has only notched one point (a single goal) in those games.
Clearly that’s not his game at the NHL level like it appears to be in the AHL,
however the Flames have a bit of an identity crisis in their bottom-six at the
moment. Do they want the size and skill of Ferland and Jones? Do they want the
speed of Jooris and Raymond? Do they want the steady, vanilla two-way game of
Stajan? Do they want the physicality and pugilism of Bollig? What exactly are
the Flames trying to create with their bottom-six?

The
Flames need someone like Freddie Hamilton. No, scratch that. The Flames need
Freddie Hamilton and a bunch of players like him in their bottom-six. Jooris
fits the bill. Ferland fits the bill. In the American league Agostino and
Arnold play similar games. These are the types of players many NHL teams are
filling their bottom-six with. Steady, jack-of-all-trades and masters-of-none
type forwards.

At
the moment there aren’t any apparent spots on the right wing for Hamilton. However,
with the debut he’s shown to start the season, he’s moved himself from the
feel-good brotherly acquisition into a first call-up option should injuries
occur.

  • MattyFranchise

    Thank you for the update Mike. I haven’t made the time to watch any Heat games so far this season so it’s nice to be able to come here and get a feel for how the org is doing down there.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I was surprised that Grant was called up before Hathaway, based on his very good camp. I haven’t watched a single game in Stockton, so I defer to your opinion about Hamilton being next up. That said, what’s up with Hathaway, how’s he doing?

    By the way, where do you watch Heat games?