#19 PROSPECT (winter 2012): CURTIS HAMILTON

Curtis Hamilton’s scouting report on draft day included all the Oiler buzzwords via Stu 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.

I can’t really figure Curtis Hamilton out. He’s 21 years old now, ended his junior career with a slick boxcar number (62, 26-56-82) and things looked really good when he turned pro and headed for OKC. Since then, he’s been a 3 or 4line player and hasn’t forced the issue at any time. The AHL is a marathon audition and yet you don’t notice him (and I’m actually looking for him); most of this season when he’s impressed it has been on the PK. I don’t sense a confident player, he rarely engages physically and isn’t shooting enough to suggest there’s good luck on the way.

Summer 2012: not ranked

Winter 2012: #19

Pre-Draft

ISS60; Redline 121; Bob McKenzie57

  • Bruins 2010 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. Considered a wide-bodied winger with solid skills (OK skater, good shot, has a nose for the net) if not a high-end package of hockey tools, Hamilton is one of those guys who will drop because he simply didn’t play enough in his draft season, but could end up being much better than a lot of the players who will be picked before him. If he’s there early in the fourth round when Boston’s pick (via Carolina in the Aaron Ward trade) comes around he’d be hard to pass up, because he fits the mold of what the B’s are trying to do in terms of adding size, skill and scoring to the wings. He scored 20 goals in 58 games in 08-09, but only seven tallies in 26 contests this year, so Hamilton does not come without risk, and is why he will fall on draft day.
  • ISS: Well rounded player who can provide offense and raise the intensity level when needed. Hamilton has a very good technical package and understands the game very well. A strong and aggressive forechecker who can really fire the puck, Hamilton struggled with some bad luck and injuries this year which really affected his production. Hamilton is honest and hard working with the ability to play in all situations and against all types of players. He is hard on the puck and rarely backs down from battles for pucks or space and isn’t afraid to hold his ground after the whistle. Hamilton is very good at drawing defenders and then getting the puck to the net and then driving hard to the net on his own for rebounds or to create space for his teammates.
  • Mike Remmerde, Redline report: “If they still had the opt-in rule, his agent might tell him to wait until next year. Two broken collarbones adds some uncertainty. I was hoping he’d answer the questions this year I had about his somewhat soft style of play, but that didn’t really happen this year. Has good hockey sense and some hands, but I can’t decide if this guy could be a steal outside of the top 100 picks or too much of a risk. I think I’d just let some team with extra 3rd/4th round picks grab him.”

Lots of positives there, but the Remmerde comment about his “somewhat soft style of play” and his overall viewpoint of Hamilton appears to be the winning bet among the three pre-draft bio’s above.

  • 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.”
  • During the 2011-12 season, Hamilton started slowly (17, 1-5-6 +1) and didn’t do a lot from there (24, 4-1-5) for a total of 41, 5-6-11 +2. His injury derailed the year, and he did not have an opportunity to establish himself (as Tyler Pitlick did) over the course of the season.
  • I think we all knew it was going to be a little tougher this year, with wingers like Hall, Eberle, Hartikainen and Paajarvi invading OKC. This season hasn’t done much for Hamilton, although he does seem to have a larger role on the PK. As with Tyler Pitlick, if the lockout doesn’t end we’re probably looking at a lost season for this player. Currently, he’s 18, 2-1-3 -6 with 4pims and 16 shots on goal.

#19 ranked prospects on December lists:

  • December 2004: L Liam Reddox
  • December 2005: D Danny Syvret
  • December 2006: G Glenn Fisher
  • December 2007: D Sebastian Bisaillon
  • December 2008: L Phil Cornet
  • December 2009: G Olivier Roy
  • December 2010: D Jeremie Blain
  • December 2011: D Kyle Bigos
  • December 2012: L Curtis Hamilton

I’m not going to pretend to know more than I do, maybe Curtis Hamilton is doing fine and the organization is comfortable with his progess. Maybe the fact that he’s played 59 minor league games and has taken 6 minor penalties is his style, and maybe he plays a quiet, effective game. Maybe the Oilers and coach Nelson made the decision once Josh Green went down to put together two scoring lines and then try to have low event 3 and 4lines.

However, this looks a lot like Curtis Hamilton’s guilty of what Mike Remmerde suspected a couple of years ago. Hey Curtis Hamilton: this is your life! Come on down!

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11 Responses to "#19 PROSPECT (winter 2012): CURTIS HAMILTON"

  1. regwald says:

    After watching him in the WJC, I took a real liking to his style of play and have been watching his progress – or lack of progress. Not sure the issue, the injury last year didn’t help, the NHL players taking up spots this year are a factor.

    At the end of the day is a trip to the ECHL a good place to restore some of his confidence ? Might be.

  2. sliderule says:

    Redline reports “soft style of play” sums it up for this player.

    Sorry Stu another second round miss

  3. GXL says:

    [Editorial]

    Not to pull a DSF, but according to your previous #19′s, Jeff Petry was on your top 20 before he was drafted: December 2005: D Jeff Petry.

    And all this time you doubted GuyFlaming and said that Petry was too skinny, but in reality you always had a spot for him in your top 20.

    GXL

  4. dessert1111 says:

    I have to disagree about him playing soft. I agree he be more gritty, but I’ve often seen him finishing his checks and running around in the offensive zone hitting everything he can. He doesn’t do this every game, but I have noticed it more than once and have heard the announcers mention it too.

    That being said, I’ve grown to appreciate his game more after seeing him play a lot. I think he has a lot of skills that will translate to a bottom 6 NHL player, and although he isn’t scoring, his shot doesn’t look bad by eye (it looks better than Pitlick’s IMO). An ECHL scoring line might not be a bad idea, but 3rd line AHL isn’t bad either in my opinion. I think he might turn out with some patience.

  5. SK Oiler Fan says:

    He’s a good complimentary player on a line with skill guys – always has been. You stick him with other players of the same or lesser skill level and he’ll disappear off the score sheet and play a quiet , but fairly effective game with some solid PK minutes.
    He has to bring elite PK, physicality, and an aggresive forecheck every night to make the Oilers as currently constructed IMO. Not sure he’s checking off all of those boxes yet.
    I wish he was a center – Actually, I wish he was Brodziak
    He’s got time yet though.

  6. DeadmanWaking says:

    Adler is at it again under Staples’ shingle.

    Revenue sharing is socialism:

    The NHL is, after all, a non-profit organization that serves as an umbrella to 30 franchises that are for-profit like nobody’s business. The wealthier franchises, of course, want nothing to do with that, calling it socialism, pure and simple.

    Yet safeguarding the wealthy against their own failings is not:

    The NHL proposals are aimed at filling these holes to make sure such nonsense can’t happen ever again.

    Also, Hollywood accounting has no deep art:

    And lest anybody protests these books are cooked and a perfect example of creative accounting, please be aware that said books have been audited throughout by accounting firms the NHLPA itself helped pick.

    After listening to 200 hours of EconTalk, this is not how I’ve come to view it. There are intangible forms of clout associated with owning a major professional sports franchise and controlling the megabuck facilities. The clout factors less into audits than into the original business logic. Russ Roberts is a sports fan (of the kind who tuned out hockey after watching the first five minutes of Slap Shot) so sports have frequently been discussed with surprising depth.

    Finally, banks care.

    Their owners have done something known as “due diligence” before buying or starting a hockey club. Even if said owners were to overlook these steps, their bankers would remind them.

    No they don’t. When or if the wheels fall off, banks are mainly concerned with whether their own claim is settled while assets remain. They’ll engage in some relationship banking on the side to protect their generous service fee streams, but this is entirely secondary. Banks can make a lot of money off a failing business desperate to access liquidity at any price. Lawyers say the best client is a rich man in a soup pot. It’s a harder game to play as a bank, but far from impossible. A shrewd businessman will set the table with his banking partners in the win-win quadrant. But only socialist busybodies will stick out their necks to prevent him from playing his hand differently if he so chooses.

    Adler’s perspective on the autonomy of sports teams is just weird. A bank doesn’t actually go out of business if their aren’t two rival banks on opposite corners of the same intersection (though you wouldn’t know it in a big city by walking around). A sports team actually goes out of business with credible opponents to play against.

    A league is an obligatory co-franchise model. How about we start there and try again?

  7. stevezie says:

    DeadmanWaking:

    Adler’s perspective on the autonomy of sports teams is just weird.

    When a writer publishes exclusively unique opinions he comes off as a fresh voice, at first. When his opinions always fly in the face of conventional wisdom, no matter what conventional wisdom is, the author starts to come off as a crazy man on the street corner shouting about Harrison Ford shooting radiation into our tonsils.

    I’m talking about Adler, not DMW.

  8. Lucinius says:

    The thing that gets me most about the lock out and some of the recent comments from players/NHLPA/media (mainly Sportsnet) is the argument that the players deserve whatever they can get because they are what drives the game and are irreplaceable assets without which there is no sport (often using the ‘but there’s only ONE Sidney Crosby!’).

    Players are replaceable. Generational talents less so, but players like Hall? RNH? Yakupov? Hemsky? The Sedin twins, etc.? Replaceable, every single one of them, in time. Someone else is always a step or two from coming up and emerging.

    Billionaires (or suitable groups of millionaires) willing to own an NHL team, often for a loss or break even? A far smaller, less replaceable group. This is why, in the end, owners will always win the fight with the NHLPA — they can do without the league in the worst case scenario; the players are far more dependent on it.

    Let’s be honest, most NHL owners get into it as a hobby or side project that may or may not make them money. Some of them are more serious about how quickly/able the franchise needs to make money than others. Some of them care more about winning than profit.

    This is why the league often has to protect the owners from themselves (such as with the salary cap). Some of them have extremely profitable franchises (Maple Leafs, Rangers, etc.) while others don’t — but the market value of the player is always set by the wealthy. Additionally, owners more willing/able to take a loss (or smaller profit) can drive the rest into either an arms race (that they may, or may not be able to actually afford) or into being a shitty, horrible team that creates a feedback loop into losing more and more money (especially among the many fragile American teams… or the Canadian teams if the dollar drops enough).

    I think the only thing that pisses me off more than the NHL and the NHLPA in this lockout is the vapid, overtly biased media coverage (especially with Sportsnet and people like Kypreos).

  9. DeadmanWaking says:

    For my money, the first paragraph of Chapter 22: Expert Intuition: When can we trust it? of Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow is worth the price of admission (which is mainly our own time and effort if we procure the book from our local library, as I did) [my emphasis]:

    Professional controversies bring out the worst in academics. Scientific journals occasionally publish exchanges, often beginning with someone’s critique of another’s research, followed by a reply and a rejoinder. I have always thought these exchanges were a waste of time. [These degenerate into] sarcasm for beginners and advanced sarcasm. The replies rarely concede anything to a biting critique, and it is almost unheard of for a rejoinder to admit that the original critique was misguided or erroneous in any way.

    There’s more in Adler’s piece I could take on point by point, but I choose not to. I’ve registered my dissent well enough. There’s not much left to accomplish on the margins of thrust and parry.

    Actually, I lied. It’s the first sentence of the second paragraph that pays the price of admission.

    My most satisfying and productive adversarial collaboration was with Gary Klein, the intellectual leader of an association of scholars and practitioners who do not like the kind of work I do. They call themselves students of Naturalistic Decision Making, or NDM, and mostly work in organizations where they often study how experts work.

    Sleeping with the enemy. Brilliant! I’m already at the limits of fair use (way over the narrow view; borderline on where this debate needs to end concerning substantive replanting), so I’ll cut to the chase: flaming logs are heaved, but they end up in broad consensus on their joint publication.

    However, we also found that our early differences were more than an intellectual disagreement. We had different attitudes, emotions, and tastes, and those changed remarkably little over the years. This is most obvious in the facts that we find amusing and interesting. Klein still winces when the word bias is mentioned, and he still enjoys stories in which algorithms or formal procedures lead to obviously absurd decisions. … On the other hand, I find more pleasure that Klein does in the comeuppance of arrogant experts who claim intuitive powers in zero-validity situations.

    Sadly, Kahneman adds one more sentence to soft-pedal this priceless artifact of the human condition: nothing we ever learn changes what or whom we laugh at.

    I have my own unchanging spots, absolutely: I can’t stand status mystique.

    The current piece How to Win at Forecasting at Edge.org digs into status mystique (it’s far from coincidence that Daniel Kahneman writes the introduction). This piece was especially interesting to me because it told me so little I didn’t already know or believe, yet it packed a wallop in giving me permission to express it more strongly. This is an underestimated rhetorical virtue. This freshly minted permission came out a bit in my recent recourse to commonly accepted terminology. Quoting from A Conversation with Philip Tetlock (there’s also a video):

    Level playing field forecasting exercises are radically meritocratic. They put everybody on the same playing field. Tom Friedman no longer has an advantage over an unknown columnist, or that matter, an unknown graduate student. If Tom Friedman’s subjective probability [estimates are crap] the forecasting tournament just cranks through the numbers and that’s what you discover.

    … [good stuff snipped] …

    The long and the short of the story is that it’s very hard for professionals and executives to maintain their status if they can’t maintain a certain mystique about their judgment. If they lose that mystique about their judgment, that’s profoundly threatening. My inner sociologist says to me that when a good idea comes up against entrenched interests, the good idea typically fails.

    Luck plays a large role in who rises to the top. Those who get there do everything they can manage to distance themselves from being viewed as “one of the lucky”. How do you prove you got there by being good, not lucky? Squeeze the balls of the next man down the ladder. We all know that’s how skillful business leaders rise to the top. It’s so true it has its very own cliche (and popular HBO drama series). You squeeze your subordinate’s balls to take luck out of the equation (and the optics). Read that any way you like.

    One of the ways the NHL plays status mystique is by being very careful never stepping on the toes of the NFL, MLB, or the NBA. Can you imagine how the fur would fly among the alpha primates if an NHL decertification dispute reached The Supremes and a precedent was carved in stone governing all of the American major professional sports that player’s unions can decertify whenever the hell they like? Bettman would walk away from the implosion like Wily Coyote emerging from under a bus-sized canyon slab with seven-point scoliosis.

    A form of mystique I deeply loath is often found under the malign rock “business as usual” where one finds “free market” rhetoric much abused. At its core, it actually is about freedom: the freedom to contract in your own self-interest. There’s a second piece: that this leads to desirable social outcome, where desirability is construed in terms of absolute wealth creation rather than relative wealth apportionment. Four well-hung stealth drones could turn North Korea into the world’s most egalitarian society overnight, but we tend in the modern world to agree that this is not the good life: jack shit precisely divided sucks hamster balls.

    There’s a small fly in the free market ointment. The wealth miracle is most reliable when the majority of transactions are voluntarily contracted between parties with roughly equal power and information. This excludes (from my Marxist vantage point) any transaction conducted from a Lazy Boy at four in the morning to procure infomercial steak knives.

    This is the form of the free market I refer to as “commercialism”. In commercialism, equality of dealings is heavily filtered through caveat emptor. Nice work. Profits and progress are no longer joined at the hips. One can now run far ahead of the other. Don’t miss the boat! That’s more the American way than actual free markets.

    There’s no mystique in free markets. There’s plenty of mystique in commercialism. Mystique is the miasma of asymmetric power relationships. Book it.

    Some lines of business are implicitly socialist. The problem here is not what I just said, but the word I used to say it. What does socialist mean? It means that free market rationale sometimes takes a back seat to consideration of others (alternative: brother and sister can be married off at the altar of nepotism). In a sports league, success of your partner franchisees is integral to your own success. If you don’t like it, don’t buy a sports team.

    In the pill business, those who benefit are subsidized by the vast multitudes of people who also pay for the pills (on hope) but in reality receive no benefit at all (and sometimes experience harm). This is inherently socialist. And not just incidentally, because Big Pharma designs their pills to enlarge the group who pays without benefit. That’s why they use such big studies and barely squeak over the desired T-score. (A small study focused only on people who benefit immensely does not squeak over the T-score.)

    There is no such thing as a non-socialist society. In truth, there’s so much implicit socialism in any human society that we’ve learned to award pride of place to institutions of personal autonomy, such as the free market. Count me in. One of the great inventions of the human mind, Hall of Fame All-Stars game.

    Where I depart from Adler is being far more hard core about free markets, and far more pragmatic about socialism on the ground.

    I was wondering when I read about adversarial collaboration: who would be my personal Gary Klein? Adler is the first bona fide to cross my radar screen since that question posed itself.

    I had one more point to make about suck and blow. There are many out there who worship the free market at the Church of the Other Person’s Ox. You could have a society 100% unanimous on free market principles that never goes there, because they get stuck deciding whose ox to gore first. We’re all free market on the interests of others, and socialist concerning our own. The papacy of the free market spectacle just got away with a trillion dollar wager: heads I win, tails you lose. News flash. That’s no free market. That’s just North Korea dressed in better suits.

  10. Wolfpack says:

    Curtis Hamilton is a really frustrating prospect. Seems to have all the tools in terms of brains, size and skating ability. I was so excited after seeing his performance at the WJHC, seeing a player with an extensive toolbox. I know athletes develop on different timelines but I am not sure how much longer you wait for a player like Hamilton to show something – anything. If he is not scoring, the last thing you want to hear is words like “soft”.

  11. Bruce McCurdy says:

    I wouldn’t call Hamilton a soft player, but he does make soft plays at times. For example, I ripped him yesterday for his failure to be hard on the puck and get it deep on a sequence when he had tired teammates, one who had broken his stick, struggling to make the long change. Instead he turned the darn thing over at the blueline and the puck was coming right back at them. Just a little thing, but in a killer situation when there just wasn’t any margin for error.

    Fernando Pisani probably made mistakes like that when he was 21, too.

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