Dougie Hamilton may very well go from being out of the lineup for about month to being relied upon pretty heavily by the Bruins. Losing a defenseman like Dennis Seidenberg  will put a team in that kind of position.
Hamilton, who has been out since Dec. 8 with a lower-body injury, will return to Boston’s lineup Thursday against the Predators. He will be on a pairing with Matt Bartkowski based on Thursday’s morning skate, but big-picture wise, Hamilton is a logical candidate to be the playoff partner of Zdeno Chara  with Seidenberg out.
Regardless of who he plays with, Hamilton can expect an increase in minutes with Seidenberg lost for the season due to a torn ACL/MCL suffered last week. Seidenberg was second on the Bruins in average time on ice with 21:50, so there are some big minutes to be picked up. Hamilton and Johnny Boychuk  seem like the best bets to take the next step minutes-wise, though it’s worth noting both players are right-shot defensemen who do not play their off-side. Seidenberg is a left shot who plays both sides.
Hamilton has already been given more responsibility than last season, as his 19:10 of ice time per game is over two minutes more than the 17:08 he averaged as a rookie. He’s handled it well, posting a plus-9 rating through 28 games with three goals and four assists. Hamilton averaging 1.857 shots on goal per game, which is third among Bruins defensemen behind Chara and Torey Krug.
Those minutes might go up again before long, but for a guy who hasn’t struggled too much with what’s been thrown at him at the NHL  level, Hamilton isn’t concerned.
“I’m not really thinking about it. I think I just want to start simple and kind of go with it. I’m not really worried about how much I play or anything like that,” Hamilton said. “Hopefully I can play well and kind of earn that ice time.”
If there is any silver lining to Hamilton’s injury, it’s that this season will be a lot lighter than him than last season. Hamilton went from playing in the four-game Canada-Russia challenge to playing 32 games in the OHL during the lockout to playing 49 games for the Bruins last season.
This season, having some time off here and there (he’ll also have the two-and-a-half-week Olympic break in February) to work out and stay off the ice might pay off later in the season.
“I think I feel good right now with my body and everything,” Hamilton said. “Just working out with [strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides], and with two weeks of workouts, you’re already feeling stronger, so I think it could help me, but I try not to think about it. For me, [I’ll] just try to get back to how I was playing. Hopefully it will be right away instead of a few games.”