|Dougie Hamilton ready for main camp||09.15.11 at 1:11 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — With rookie camp winding down, Bruins prospects have about to day to process what they’ve learned in the past week and figure out how to apply it when main camp officially opens on Friday. For some players, including Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner, it won’t be their first rodeo, but for 2011 ninth overall pick Dougie Hamilton, it will be uncharted territory.
“I think the first skate will be pretty cool,” Hamilton said after Thursday’s rookie practice at Ristuccia Arena. “I don’t really know what to expect. They’re obviously the pro guys, so you want to size yourself up to them and see what they’re like and what you need to do better and what you need to do to become an NHL player like them, so it’s going to be special going out there with them and kind of just learn from them and see what I need to do better.”
Hamilton hasn’t been around enough Bruins veterans to be able to pick their brains for what to expect, but he’s pretty close with someone who’s having a similar experience some 3,200 miles away.
Hamilton’s brother Freddie, a 2010 fifth-round pick of the Sharks, was not invited to main camp with the team last year, but like Dougie is set to wrap up rookie camp and hit the ice with the big boys. Neither figure to make strong pushes to make either team’s NHL roster, but to both be in similar spots in their careers (both played for Niagara of the OHL last year) is something that allows them to share their experiences.
“He’s helped me a lot with everything,” Hamilton said of his brother. “He’s doing [rookie camp] right now and he’s going to main camp. We’re kind of both going through the same thing right now on different coasts, so that’s cool.”
Brother Freddie isn’t the only OHL teammate Hamilton’s chatted with recently. When the Bruins and Islanders played their rookie games earlier this week, Hamilton faced Ice Dogs teammates Ryan Strome and Mitchell Theoret, who are both in rookie with the Islanders. Strome, selected one pick ahead of Hamilton in the draft, netted a pair of goals in Tuesday’s 7-2 Islanders’ win, one of which came off a funny bounce that, with Michael Hutchinson out of the net to play a dump-in, left Strome with an easy goal. Hamilton grinned as recalled telling his OHL teammate not to get too carried away with the tally.
“I don’t think he can brag too much about that one,” Hamilton said. “It’s pretty tough to miss those ones.”
Hamilton seems to be holding his own on the ice in the rookie practices, though his body isn’t yet what it figures to be by the time he reaches the NHL. The team would like the 194-pound Hamilton to add more weight, with the hope that he could end up in the 210 pound area to fill out his 6-foot-5 frame.
The biggest test for any of these players comes in the rookie games, as the game often features a high level of skill that’s yet to be fully polished. Top OHL players are donning NHL jerseys in games for the first time, and making their debuts in NHL arenas.
Hamilton certainly seems like a smart player on the ice, and though the Bruins’ offense never really got going in Tuesday’s game, he certainly knows when to be aggressive and pinch when to stay at the point in the offensive zone. Overall, Hamilton viewed the rookie games as a positive experience, though a different one.
“It’s a lot faster, a lot stronger guys, so you’ve got to step your game up and kind of play up to their level,” Hamilton said. “The guys are bigger and stronger, so it kind of pushes you. You’ve got to try to get your confidence up and be comfortable with that.”
The rookies will practice Friday at TD Garden before most of them, including Hamilton, join the veterans on the ice Saturday.