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Monday, February 28, 2011

Hamilton rising at right time

Niagara IceDogs defenseman Dougie Hamilton is making a top-10 run for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at just the right time.

Which of the league's 30 teams wouldn't want a guy who is already 6-4 and skates well, moves the puck, quarterbacks the power play and projects as a No. 1 or 2 defenseman at the highest level?

Bruins2011DraftWatch talked to Hamilton and his coach, Marty Williamson, and what follows is a partial transcript of some of the questions and answers given about the young man whose parents were Canadian Olympians, has a close relationship with his older brother and IceDogs teammate Freddie, and who grew up idolizing Scott Niedermayer (one of the reasons he wears #27).

Hope you enjoy the brief Q & A session with this B2011DW fave and his OHL coach.

Dougie Hamilton, D Niagara IceDogs

Bruins 2011 Draft Watch: We talked to Shane Prince recently and he said every hockey player dreams of having a great season in their draft year. Would you say that you are living that dream right now?

Dougie Hamilton: I think so. It started off in the summer for me. Getting the chance to represent Canada (at the Ivan Hlinka tournament in Slovakia) gave me a huge boost of confidence. For me, I would say I'm having a good year personally and with the way the team is playing, things are going great for sure.

B2011DW: In your own words, describe yourself as a hockey player to those who may not be familiar with you.

DH: I'm a complete defenseman. I'm one of the bigger guys on the ice, and I'm a good skater for a big defenseman. I will battle in the corners, move the puck well and can jump into the rush. I can quarterback the power play. I would also say I'm a little bit of a sneaky offensive player; I like to sneak into the play and have had some good success with that sneaky element to my game. I guess I would just say that I can do a little bit of everything.

B2011DW: Who is the toughest opponent you've faced in the OHL so far?

DH: One player stands out for me: Zack Kassian. When he sticks his butt out in the offensive zone, there's not much you can do to get the puck. Even though I'm one of the bigger guys, he just protects the puck so well and sticks that butt out and it's really tough to keep him in check.

B2011DW: You've talked about how close you are with your older brother, Freddie. What was it like for you to experience his being drafted last summer by the Sharks?

DH: It's actually kind of a funny story. We were at home (in St. Catharines) following the draft on the internet. I remember we were a little disappointed because he was rated higher but ended up dropping. It all worked out and he's in a great situation (with San Jose), but at the time we were waiting for him to get picked. Then, the internet went down and the page wasn't refreshing, so the first we found out about it was a text we got from Vizzer (Mark Visentin) or maybe it was Ryan Strome, saying he'd been taken by the Sharks. It was a great feeling for him and our family, but a little frustrating because the internet went down in the middle of it.

B2011DW: You're a high-end hockey prospect and a high achiever in the classroom. Does school come naturally for you, and what is the secret to balancing the academics with the hockey demands on your time?

DH: It comes naturally a bit, but not totally. I do my schoolwork and I work hard at it. I think that there are not a lot of kids out there who are willing to take the time to sit down and study with everything else they have going on. But for me, the work I do in school translates into my hockey. I want to be the best at anything I do; I want to be the best in school, and I want to be the best on the ice.

Marty Williamson, GM and head coach, Niagara IceDogs

B2011DW: Are you surprised at the jump in Dougie's production from his first OHL season to where he is now?

Marty Williamson: Very surprised, although it's not because I didn't think he lacked the skills to do it. Defensemen sometimes take a little longer to mature, so for him to go from where he was a year ago to being almost a point-per-game player for us, I think it really speaks to the kind of potential he has and what a bright, intelligent kid he is. He made the adjustment from his rookie season and his overall play has reflected that.

B2011DW: He comes from a pretty accomplished family; what kind of influence have his parents had on both Dougie and brother Freddie in your estimation?

MW: I think their parents have passed on the work ethic and dedication to what they love, which is for their sons- hockey. Dougie is just a focused young man; he excels in school and hockey, and he's very tight with his family. I think he learned from his parents the kind of discipline and preparation it takes to be an elite athlete. He's very meticulous in terms of how he takes care of himself and I don't know that I've ever seen the kind of regimen a young man like Dougie has. He's always the first guy in and the last one to leave the dressing room, and I think that's what will separate him from others who may have the talent but not the drive.

B2011DW: What do you think is going to be what attracts NHL teams most to him?

DH: He's got some real upside. He can lug it, he can pass it, he can really shoot it. I saw Adam Larsson and he's a fantastic player and prospect, and I think Dougie brings a similar style to Larsson. I don't think Dougie is quite as physically developed at this stage as Larsson is, though. He still has a pretty thin frame, but will be an elite player at about 210-215 pounds in a few years.

Here are some clips of Hamilton doing what he does very well thanks to NHLDraftVideo:

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