In 2011, the Boston Bruins selected Dougie Hamilton ninth overall. He played 178 NHL games for them, scoring 22 goals and 83 points, and averaging 19:32 a game along the way. Being just 19 when he entered the NHL for them, it looked like he would be a key part of Boston’s future to come.
But as has been somewhat of a trend with young Bruins stars, he was traded. Now he’s a Calgary Flame, and tonight is the first time he faces off against his former team.
And while it’s been a rough start for him on his new team, as of late, Hamilton has been finding his groove. He’s played over 20 minutes in five of his last six games, and has 20 shots on net over the same time frame. In short: he’s been really, really good as of late, and hopefully, it’ll carry over as he faces the only other NHL team he’s ever played for.
Hamilton has only played 25 games for Calgary versus 178 games for Boston, so it’s pretty much impossible to get a fair comparison of his performances on each club thus far. That said, here’s his career to date, via War on Ice:
So far, we can see that in Calgary, Hamilton has been sheltered more than ever before – even more than in his rookie year. That light blue circle in the bottom right corner is Hamilton’s season with the Flames, and it being in the bottom right corner indicates that not only is Hamilton receiving more offensive zone starts than before, but he’s also facing easier competition than ever before as well.
There are a few reasons for this. In T.J. Brodie’s absence to start the season, Hamilton was initially entrusted with top pairing minutes, and he failed. His struggles warranted bumping him down to the third pairing, and for a while, he played alongside Deryk Engelland in an incredibly sheltered role – and excelled.
Now, though, with the Flames’ defence healthy and pairings set, we’ve found what was anticipated to be Hamilton’s role all along: a second pairing defenceman, playing alongside Kris Russell. There’s no need to have him take on the top competition like he did in Boston; Brodie and Mark Giordano are there for that.
With Russell, he’s played 210:25 minutes at even strength, and the pairing’s offensive zone starting percentage clocks in at 50.7%.
As Hamilton spends more time in Calgary, it’s likely the circumstances of his deployment get tougher; after all, he’s only 22 years old, and he’s signed for six seasons. And while his relative corsi is the lowest it’s ever been in his four-year career to date, it’s likely that statistic improves as well, as he’s slated to play a key role for the Flames both now and especially in the future.
With Boston, Hamilton was always a positive possession player. Of course, it helped that Boston, as a whole, was a positive possession team; the lowest they ever dipped was 51.7% in the 2014-15 season, when they missed the playoffs. In contrast, this season Calgary has been a 48.3% even strength corsi for team: not particularly good at all.
That said, look at the uptick at the very end. Hamilton reached his nadir with the Flames earlier, but since adjustments to his game and through the season, he’s climbing back up – and is becoming a positive possession player once again as he acclimates to the west.
He looks like he’s back on track to becoming the huge, high end, offensive defenceman he can be – and now, it’s for Calgary.