Zach Hamill, C
September 23, 1988
Boston's 1st choice, eighth overall in 2007
Signing status: Signed through 2012
Physical: Another of Boston's undersized players who has struggled to build strength and add mass since the team spent a top-10 pick on him four years ago. He's listed at 5-11, 190 in some areas, but the height and weight measurements are generous, as he's progressed slowly in terms of adding the weight and being able to keep it on over the course of a season. Average skater who lacks a quick first step and high-end speed, although he's a better skater than he gets credit for simply because of his lack of size; if he were 6-1 or 6-2, he'd get high marks for his skating. Agility and lateral movement are fine; Hamill shows very good balance and is able to shake off hits and maintain puck control. Very good passer who has the ability to feather pucks through a maze of bodies and hit teammates in stride. Deft stickhandler who slows the play down in order to set the table effectively. Can shoot the puck, but does not do so nearly enough, and that has shown in his AHL stats to date where he has tended to be a streaky finisher who scores in bunches only to go long stretches without finding the back of the net. Defensive game is coming along, but still needs work and will never be a strength of his.
Intangibles: Hamill's offensive hockey sense is first-rate, and is what got him drafted so high, when he led the WHL in scoring (albeit with just 93 points- one of the lowest totals in league history). He sees the ice better than just about any prospect in Boston's system not named Spooner and instinctively is able to sense the flow in the offensive end and make plays (both of his NHL assists to Michael Ryder are first-rate passes) His compete levels are up and down: he had a sterling reputation coming out of junior, but his intensity has at times wavered in Providence. Hamill's challenges go beyond the physical, and he's had to work at getting comfortable in the AHL. His late-season callup to Boston does speak well to his progress, but he could be the odd-man out once again this year, as the Bruins seem to have too much depth at center in terms of talent and one-way contracts for him to have a legitimate chance of breaking camp with the team barring a rash of injuries. A slow starter who has had trouble finding his comfort zone out of the gate- that makes it tough for him to earn an NHL roster spot.
Boston Bruins 2011 Development Camp assessment
Did not attend.
A year ago, we said that Hamill is clearly at a crossroads within the Bruins organization, and the same holds true in August, 2011. It would not be a surprise to see him dealt as part of a package to get him a change of scenery. He had a brief shot with the NHL club last season when Marc Savard went down with another concussion, but aside from one highlight reel assist against Montreal, didn't so much to earn the trust of the Boston coaching staff. Does not appear that he is ever going to develop into a top-six NHL center. At the same time, he can be a useful NHL forward on the third- or fourth lines, and he could crack the first two lines on a below average NHL team given his talent level. The biggest problem with Hamill as a Bruin is that the team spent a top-10 selection on him, a fact made worse when you consider that the Sharks moved up to grab NHL rookie-of-the-year finalist Logan Couture one spot later. Barring some kind of major breakthrough at camp this fall, it's hard to see Hamill displacing any of the Boston centers ahead of him, and in the middle is where he is most effective, which makes a switch to wing more of a challenge (although not out of the question as hinted at by his new Providence coach). The team can afford to hang onto him for Providence one more time, but it's hard to imagine he'd be in the organization much longer beyond that.
"Well I think if you just, first of all, go back over the last three years obviously [Hamill's] development isn’t, he hasn’t developed as well as we all hoped. Okay, so we all know that up front. Part of that has to fall on the coaching staff and part of that has to fall on the individual."- Providence Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy; July 8, 2011
"You know now we move forward, Zach gets an opportunity to work with a new coaching staff per say. Maybe that motivates him, maybe we look at moving him around in a different position. He’s been a center iceman, not a lot of room there, sometimes maybe try him on the wing. I know it’s a little unorthodox, thinking outside the box. But maybe that gets his game to the next level, putting him with some players that can make him a better player also. But at the end of the day, when you’re your fourth year at the same organization it falls upon yourself just to push people. I think, the individual has to recognize what’s going on around him, a few people have passed him. And it’s time for him to start passing a couple of younger guys that have come in the last couple of years. And whether he’s ready to do that we’ll find out in September."- Providence Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy; July 8, 2011
"But for him, part of his process could be hey there’s twenty nine other teams, maybe if I show other people I can play then he’s still an asset to the Bruins but gets other teams to start thinking about him in their line-up, that are weaker you know up front. And that’s sort of how Zach has to approach it. I think both at a personal level that hey I’ve got to find a home somewhere else, if it’s not here but playing well. Or I’ve got to make space for myself here and they will move someone currently in the line up."- Cassidy; July 8, 2011
“I thought he was pretty poised with the puck, and he competed hard in our own end. He was pretty good; he was in the right position, I though the focus was good. Obviously, he got a helper there on that one goal and that’s what we wanted to see. We wanted to put him in some positions there where he had an opportunity to showcase his talent, and the power play was a part of it, and I thought he did well.”- Bruins head coach Claude Julien on Hamill, Washington, D.C.; April, 2010
“I was keeping it more simple, not forcing plays in the second half (of last season). Just kind of playing my game, keeping things simple and as plays opened up, I made them.”- Zach Hamill to hockeyjournal.com; April 2010