WILMINGTON — Ninth overall pick Dougie Hamilton is the second blue-chip NHL  draft prospect in as many years to highlight the Bruins’ annual development camp, as he was the star at Ristuccia Arena Thursday, a year after Tyler Seguin  came in as the No. 2 overall pick last summer. Unlike Seguin a year ago, Hamilton is not expected to make the NHL  roster this season, and figures to head back to Niagara of the OHL for a third season. The Bruins’ defensive group is already more than full, with Steven Kampfer and Matt Bartkowski a likely training camp battle for the seventh spot. Given where the Bruins sit in the NHL and their defensive situation, Hamilton doesn’t figure to be overwhelmed with trying to force his way in.
“I don’t think there’s really any pressure,” Hamilton said Thursday at Ristuccia. “I want to be an NHL player, and I’m working as hard as I can to make that happen. I think whatever the staff wants to do with me, and whatever’s best for my development, I’m happy with that. I just want to be a dominant player in the NHL one day. Whatever it’s going to take is what I want to do.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the draft came when the Islanders passed on Hamilton’s service with the fifth overall pick last month. Their selection of Hamilton’s Niagara teammate in center Ryan Strome allowed the defenseman to fall to nine, where the B’s scooped him up with Toronto’s pick.
While joining the Bruins figures to cost him a shot at the NHL next season, their success has proven that he’s joining a team who have used their youngsters the right way.
“I think it just shows how well the staff does with their players,” he said. “If a team doesn’t have good prospects coming up and good players in their system, I guess they’re not doing something right. Boston’s obviously doing something right, and it’s good to be a part of that, and it’s going to be a fun couple of years to develop and become an NHL player.”
Coming off a 58-point season for the IceDogs, the most important for the 6-foot-5 defenseman figures to be weight. Weighing in the 190-pound range, the Toronto native clearly needs to bulk up before he can become the top-pairing blueliner he is projected to one day be.
“For sure [I need to gain weight],” Hamilton said. “I’ve gained a lot of weight this summer, and over the last couple of years I’ve grown so much. It’s kind of been hard to fill out and fill into my body. [There are] some uncoordinated points because of the growth, but right now I’m just trying to stay strong. I guess you don’t really need to be that big if you’re still strong. It would definitely be nice to put on some weight.”
Hamilton says that his target weight is somewhere in the neighborhood of 210-220 pounds.
“It’s kind of cool for me thinking about that,” Hamilton added, “just because it would allow me to a lot more dominant out there.”
Dominance is what the Bruins should one day expect from Hamilton. Though he does not yet look the part of a top defenseman, the lanky and bright-eyed teenager (he turned 18 last month) compares himself to Rob Blake, a comparison with which B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli agrees.
For now, Hamilton and the other newcomers to development camp are there to meet one another and make a good impression on the organization.
“[He’s] a big boy, moves really well for a kid that’s 6-foot-4,” B’s assistant GM Don Sweeney said Thursday. “I like his overall approach to the game. He looks like he wants to get up ice and is conscientious about his one-on-one play. It’s a small sample size, obviously, but based on all of our games we watched him play, he’s a well-rounded player that has a lot of room for continued development so we’re really excited to have him.”