I know the thought of sending Dougie Hamilton to Providence immediately has some people shaking their head. We know what this kid is projected to turn into. He was a top 10 draft pick, he showed some promise in his first few weeks offensively and he'll be a big part of the Bruins organization going forward. The reason I ask this question, however, is because it is unknown if Hamilton will take the leap needed to become an intrical part of the defense this season.
With Hamilton turning 20, he is now eligible to play in the AHL – something he could not do last year. So the question I propose to you is:
Could Dougie Hamilton benefit from a year in Providence?
The Bruins are well stocked at defensive depth with Chara, Seidenberg, Boychuk, Krug, Bartkowski, McQuaid and Morrow. This is a squad (minus Morrow) that found itself moments away from a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals. This is the same defensive group that finished 4th in penalty kill during the playoffs (Washington, Pittsburgh and Chicago finished in the top 3), killing 88.7% of their penalties.
But if we're going to talk about Hamilton's effectiveness with the Bruins, we need to look at the type of role he's going to fill with them. It's a given that Hamilton is more of an "offensive defenseman" than he is a "defensive defenseman".
Last season, Hamilton scored 5 goals and had 9 assists (11 points) in 42 games last season as a rookie. When evaluating his 5 on 5 numbers, Hamilton scored 2 goals and had 9 assists – 6 of those assists being first assists (which, in my eyes are more valuable).
WARNING. WARNING. WARNING.
ADVANCED STATISTICS ABOUT THE BE UNLEASHED.
PLEASE PREPARE THYSELF.
But it's not all about points, as we know. Hamilton's iFenwick (iFenwick stands for Individual Fenwick. Fenwick = Shots on Goal + Shots directed at net that missed the net) sits at 87, which ranks him 5th among the Bruins defensemen last season, which lines up with him being 5th among that group in even strength time on ice.
Hamilton's iCorsi also ranks him 5th among that group with 125. (iCorsi stands for Individual Corsi, which is iFenwick + shots directed at the net, which were blocked). The only starting defenseman that ranks lower than Hamilton in these categories is Adam McQuaid.
While Hamilton's even strength statistics, offensively, aren't bad at all – it's the power play where Dougie will be an asset for Boston. The Bruins lack a true offensive defenseman that can create both space and opportunities for the forwards to score goals. Hamilton does that.
Using a base of 50 minutes played 5 on 4 this year (and only coming out with two results: Dougie Hamilton and Zdeno Chara), Hamilton was very strong on the power play. With 79:57 TOI this regular season on the power play, Hamilton scored 2 goals, assisted on 2 other goals and those 2 assists were first assists.
It's worth noting that Zdeno Chara had about 32 more minutes of PP TOI this season and Hamilton ended up with more points (4 to 3), a better shooting percentage (11% to 7.6%), better goals and assists per 60 (which is the rate of 60 minutes per stat) and was just overall better on the power play than Zdeno Chara.
That's strange for me to come to grips with, but that's what the facts are telling you.
So offensively, Dougie Hamilton is a needed commodity for the Bruins. The only real offensive defenseman the Bruins have is Torey Krug so keeping in the Hamilton would be beneficial, right?
There's the question. What's the benefit. Last year Hamilton had some big struggles on defense – to the point where Dennis Seidenberg could no longer try and mask those struggles. If you look at Hamilton's HARD (which is an all inclusive defensive rating where 0=average and >0 is above average), he sports a 31.4 when even strength. It doesn't hurt that Hamilton's HARD QOT (defensive quality of teammates) is a 12.
So ask yourself, does Hamilton's offensive ability make up for any defensive defiencies that may come along with being a sophomore in a defensive focused system.
Do I think Hamilton will need some time in the AHL? Not really – although it couldn't hurt. The biggest drawback will be burning through a year of his rookie contract, but you have the organizational depth that if the move was needed, it wouldn't hurt the team.
So what do you think?