I'm talking about Niagara Ice Dogs defenseman Dougie Hamilton.
I continue to hear good things about his progress, and he could be this season's Erik Gudbranson in terms of being that defenseman with size, mobility and some upside, although not in the class of other offensive d-men (as Cam Fowler was for Windsor last year).
Ryan Murphy's blitz on the OHL scoring race has generated a ton of buzz and legion of proponents (few in the NHL ranks, however) who feel he could be the first defenseman taken out of that league. But if you read between the lines and listen to the whispers of some of the NHL amateur scouting fraternity, it is Hamilton who could very well be the No. 1 OHL rearguard to hear his name called in June.
In 18 games, Hamilton has two goals and 12 points. That's a far cry from Murphy's electric 10 goals and 31 points in 17 contests. But, Hamilton has the one thing Murphy can never possess, no matter how much he skates after practice, or spends in the weight room: a 6-4 frame that will one day fill out to 220+ pounds and allow Hamilton to lineup against the biggest, baddest NHL power wingers teams can put on the ice.
Look, let me make one thing clear-- I really like Murphy and love his skills. Watching video of the kid is a lot of fun, and I'm hoping he'll make Team Canada so I can see him live in Buffalo next month for the World Jr. (Under-20) Championships. But, in the NHL, the proverbial guy who walks tall and carries a big stick is the one who teams will usually roll the dice on first. Hamilton is still pretty raw and has a lot to learn. Some are concerned about his first-pass and overall on-ice vision. Those are things to keep an eye on. But, in this day and age, its all about the upside, baby. And 6-4 defensemen with wheels and some bite don't grow on trees.
We saw it last year when Dale Tallon grabbed Gudbranson over Fowler. And we could see it again in Minnesota if Hamilton is up on stage while Murphy is sitting in the stands.
Either way, both defensemen are clearly the class of the OHL this year and will likely polarize debates among scouts and hockey internet communities from now until draft day.