This is Curtis Hamilton. The only misstep he made this past season was trying to grow a moustache.
Back in the olden days, the Montreal Canadiens drafted two-way players by the truckload. Even the first round picks often had a defensive aspect to their games (Shutt, Gainey) and if they missed on a quality checker they’d trade for him moments after the draft (Doug Jarvis).
As fans we often look at the boxcars and assume the other aspects of the game (discipline, defensive awareness, secondary skills) will take care of themselves. The devil, as they say, is in the details.
The first thing I thought of when reading Stu MacGregor’s scouting report about Hamilton was the old timey Habs.
- MacGregor: “An extremely smart player, a great two way player. Strong, has good size, works hard along the boards. Very strong on the puck, has good vision, very good penalty killer. A guy who plays hard and smart.”
At the time, Oiler fans could take heart in knowing Edmonton selected a prospect with a nice range of skills but there were question marks. Quoting Kirk Luedeke from Bruins draft watch “Curtis Hamilton of the Saskatoon Blades suffered a nightmare, injury-plagued season with two collarbone breaks, the second of which ended his season just after the new year.”
As the season began, Hamilton was getting attention for all kinds of things. Scoring at even strength and on the powerplay and hard work on the penalty kill. He also received an invite to the WJ camp and won a job with the team. One of the reasons? Two way play.
Hamilton tells C&B about his 2-way play: “It’s the way I’ve been taught in this league and I’ve been successful thus far, and I wasn’t drafted as a goal scoring guy – I think I had seven goals last year – but they knew I was a two-way guy and that’s why they picked me. I enjoy playing the two way game, I guess some guys don’t like it because they just like scoring goals, but I enjoy penalty killing, blocking shots and being counted on for the defensive side of the game too.”
Hamilton is 6.03, 205; he’s a skill player with a defensive conscience; the injuries of previous season stayed away in 10-11. Curtis Hamilton is a quality NHL prospect.
OKC Prediction for 11-12: 65gp, 20-26-46 (.708)
NHL Prediction for 11-12: 10gp, 1-2-3 (.300)
- Is he the first callup option on LW? No. When we discuss the regulars (probably August) I’ll be including a player who will probably start in OKC but play more than 40 NHL games. That player will be the first callup.
- Hartikainen? Right. Hartikainen will probably start in OKC and take the PP minutes from Hamilton early on. I do think Hamilton will be part of the PP option sometime this year in OKC.
- Where does Hamilton fit on the depth chart right now? Hmm. NHL level it would be Hall, Smyth, Paajarvi, Eager, Hordichuk. AHL might be Hartikainen, Curtis Hamilton, Lennert Petrell (who can also play C), Hunter Tremblay.
- So, 7 of 9? Funny. Phil Cornet is probably in there too, although Stockton may be calling.
- You really like this player a lot. Yes. Hamilton isn’t an elite talent in any area, but he has the potential to be a complementary winger on a 2nd scoring line or a member of a checking line. He can post crooked numbers on the PP and penalty killing is considered a strength; one guesses he’ll get PK chances in the NHL long before the PP time comes (if it does).
- Why do you like him so much? He represents a change in strategy for the Oilers. The Coke Machines may return to the draft list soon, but Hamilton is a hockey player with size and is more skilled than the big guys who also play hockey in the Winchester-McDonald group of Coke Machines. He’s not going to post 100 PIMS but he’s also not going to get pushed around and God love him he can take a pass and make a pass.
- That sounds like a crock. Winchester and McDonald have played in the NHL. Right, but never at a level where you considered them a certain part of the hockey team. McDonald arrived in the AHL at age 22 and went 73, 12-11-23; Winchester turned pro when he was 22 and went 65, 13-6-19. Hamilton isn’t a tough guy but he is a hockey player who can handle himself, and he should blow by those numbers as a 20-year old.
- You just saw those WHL numbers and jumped on the bandwagon. Well I jumped on the bandwagon alright but it was early on. He’s a player with a wide range of skills–that’s the kind of player I enjoy watching. Like Anton Lander, Curtis Hamilton can help in multiple roles.
- He’s cutoff on the depth chart. These things have a way of working themselves out. The good young W’s clearly ahead of him (Hall, Paajarvi, Eberle, Omark, Hartikainen) are certainly a roadblock, but Hamilton was always going to earn his keep in a 2-way role anyway. Should he earn top 6F minutes that’s great, but his role will probably be 3/4 line LW for his first NHL seasons (should he make the grade) and beyond.
- How close is he to Hartikainen? I’d say Hamilton is a slightly better offensive player with a good reputation on special teams, but we’ll know more a year from now. Hartikainen is more of a PF and has nice hands, plus he’s a year older and closer to being an NHL regular. I think Hartikainen has a better chance of landing on a pure skill line but that’s a guess. Hartikainen being a year older is a big advantage but probably only for this season. The big Finn will need to make progress.
- Will one cost the other his job? Maybe, but there’s work to do for either of them to establish themselves. Hartikainen is blocked right now by the kids and Smyth on LW and that probably means he starts in OKC. Hamilton is farther down the chain (7 of 9 or 10) and needs to post a strong season (like Hartikainen did) to be in a good situation next season.
- Is there another bunch coming? Not really. Drew Czerwonka and guys like Travis Ewanyk are in the system but the future on LW is Hall, Paajarvi, Hartikainen, Hamilton from my pov. That’s a nice group and they could always turn Paajarvi around or move Hall to C. This is a nice group of talent–just don’t trade any of them!
- His luck could change. You can say that about anyone. From what we know, Hamilton might have been a little undervalued on draft day based on his skill set and a year later the pick looks like a win. Anything beyond that we’re guessing.
- For a big guy who finishes his checks, Hamilton doesn’t have a lot of PIMS. He’s an intelligent player who can play a physical game with skill. He has size and his footspeed is considered NHL calibre.
- Bah. He’s a checker. That would be just fine. The Edmonton Oilers have Hall, Paajarvi and possibly Hartikainen to post goals in the future; it’s that role player they’re looking for now. A winger who can do the tough work without taking a penalty or losing his mark. Curtis Hamilton is in a very nice spot right now with a lot of work and possible rewards straight ahead.