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With Zach Trotman emerging, B’s young D competition isn’t limited to three

09.17.13 at 2:43 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton is no sure thing to make the Bruins with Zach Trotman pushing. (AP)

Dougie Hamilton is no sure thing to make the Bruins with Zach Trotman pushing. (AP)

WILMINGTON — With two spots in the lineup and three spots on the roster up for grabs on the Bruins’ blue line, it was logical to assume that the competition would be down to three people: Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton. Now, they have company.

In a preseason in which many were eager to see which forward would shine and take the third-line right wing spot, it’s been defenseman Zach Trotman who has been the standout player at a position that wasn’t really begging for more NHL candidates. Trotman, a 23-year-old right shot defenseman with a serious slap shot, was the darling of rookie camp and began training camp paired with Zdeno Chara. He’s made the most of every opportunity so far in camp, scoring in the third period of Monday’s exhibition win over the Canadiens.

On Tuesday, Julien said that the discussion of which young defensemen will make the team has expanded past the trio of Krug, Bartkowski and Hamilton to now include Trotman and former University of Vermont blueliner Kevan Miller.

“There’s no doubt there are a lot of guys that are in that conversation,” Claude Julien said Tuesday. “Miller played well last night. He’s big, he’s strong. He’s not the [most notable] offensive guy, but defensively he did a great job. There’s lots of guys right now that we have to have a real close look at because we’re going to need some depth down the road when you have some injuries.”

Who would be the odd man out if Trotman or Miller were to make the team? Likely Hamilton. Last postseason, Hamilton’s chances of getting into the lineup were hampered by the fact that Andrew Ference, Wade Redden and Dennis Seidenberg (all of whom were injured at various points) were all left-handed shots. That caused the right-handed Hamilton to get passed over in favor of Krug and Bartkowski, both of whom are lefties.

It seemed that Hamilton being a right shot would help him in camp, as Adam McQuaid and Johnny Boychuk are the only two veteran righties on the back end, meaning that Hamilton had the inside track for one job while Bartkowski and Krug would battle for Ference’s old job. Now, with Trotman (and Miller to a lesser extent) pushing for a job, Hamilton is one of three righties in the mix for that spot.

Following the season, the idea of the now-20-year-old Hamilton potentially starting the season in the AHL seemed possible, but only if the B’s had another right-shot option. With Trotman impressing, it makes that scenario at the very least something the Bruins can entertain. It’s also worth considering that both Bartkowski, 25, and Krug, 22, are more developed than Hamilton and therefore won’t be as negatively impacted by potentially being the seventh defenseman. Hamilton is better off playing now — at either level — as opposed to going days and potentially weeks at a time without game action.

The biggest question with Trotman is a scarily condensed concussion history. He suffered three in a five-month span last season, but he hasn’t been limited in practices thus far in camp.

In addition to his mammoth shot, a plus for Trotman is his size. Hamilton is young and hasn’t had long off seasons the last two summers, so he hasn’t been able to add a ton of weight to fill out his frame. Trotman stands at 6-foot-4 and 202 pounds.

Miller, who has skated with Bartkowski in camp, went undrafted but has spent the last two seasons in Providence. Last season, he had two goals and 14 assists for 16 points in 64 regular-season games, with five assists in nine playoff contests.

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