The most well-known Hamilton in the world of hockey in Massachusetts is Dougie, a blooming defenseman at just 20 years old for the Boston Bruins, and for good reason. Hamilton played in all 12 of the Bruins’ playoff games this year, scoring two goals and adding five assists for seven points. But if you were to ask people in Worcester or fans of the Worcester Sharks, they would tell you that Dougie’s older brother, Freddie, may be a future star as well.
Freddie, who turned 22 in January, was Worcester’s most consistent offensive contributor this season. After struggling during the 2012-13 season, notching just 26 points in 76 games, Freddie began to put it all together in his second professional season this year. The 6’1” 190-pound forward led the Sharks with 43 points in just 64 games played on 22 goals and 21 assists—leading the team in goals and finishing second on the team only to defenseman Dylan DeMelo (22) in helpers. Due to his rapid development and injury woes in San Jose, Hamilton got his first taste of the National Hockey League early in the year, going pointless in 11 games. On October 24, the two brothers squared off when the Sharks visited the Bruins at the TD Garden in a clash between two of the top teams in the NHL. Although the Bruins won 2-1, Freddie logged 15:35 of ice time and proved not to be a liability against one of the strongest teams in the league. He also fired four shots on Tuukka Rask in that game, which was the third most among San Jose skaters.
Anyone who’s seen Freddie play in heavy doses, though, will tell you that he needs some work at the defensive end of the ice. In 151 professional games between Worcester and San Jose, Hamilton has compiled a combined rating of minus-28. Having watched Hamilton for all of 2012-13, I can say that Hamilton struggled down low in the defensive zone as a center, often times not being strong or physical enough to match up with older and bigger players. However, as he becomes more familiar with the systems within the organization and matures, one has to think that his defensive game will improve as he continues to develop.
In my mind, Hamilton is one more season away from being a regular in the NHL, but that all depends on available roster spots, injuries, and San Jose’s personal plan for him. Unless, they truly feel that he’s ready, there’s no need to rush a player along in an organization like San Jose, who has depth and veteran leadership at the NHL level. One factor that may work in Hamilton’s favor for next season is the fact that three of San Jose’s forwards are free agents this offseason—James Sheppard (restricted), Mike Brown (unrestricted), and Tommy Wingels (restricted), not to mention what may happen with trades. What happens with those players may play a role in Hamilton’s destination next season.
Either way, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be long before there are two Hamilton’s in the NHL.