August 08 2010 10:55AM
This is Curtis Hamilton. Drafted in June by the Edmonton Oilers, his "mixed bag" resume received a positive arrow this weekend. That arrow is a positive indicator that should be taken seriously.
I've been playing close attention to the NHL draft since 1973. It isn't the item I lead with when introducing myself, but hey what I do on my free time is my own business. :-)
Long before we decide a prospect is a suspect, there are miles and miles of "tells" along the way. Although it is true that you can't evaluate a prospect until long after his draft day (my line in the sand is 5 years) it is also true that the information we use to make that call begins to appear very soon after the NHL Entry Draft.
Before this weekend, the Curtis Hamilton resume looked like this:
- Central Scouting: "He has very good upside with all the tools. He's not an aggressive player by penalty minutes, but he finishes his checks in all areas and is very effective. Good size and skates very well, also. He's strong on both the penalty kill and the power play. You see him and just like what he brings to the table."
- Injuries: Hamilton's trouble began Nov. 26, when he slipped chasing a puck during a WHL Super Series game against Russia, and crashed into the boards, breaking his left collarbone. Doctors advised against surgery, and he missed nine weeks while the bone healed. But in his first game back, Jan. 22 against Kootenay, he was hit into the boards, breaking the same bone in the same place. This time he had surgery, which sidelined him until the start of the playoffs. He had 2 goals and 3 points in the Blades' first-round four-game sweep of Red Deer, but in the first game of the second round against Brandon, he was hit from behind and suffered a separated left shoulder.
- Post-draft we can add comments from Stu MacGregor: An extremely smart player, a great two way player. Strong, has good size, works hard along the boards. Very strong on the puck, has good vision, very good penalty killer. A guy who plays hard and smart.
- I like to post Desjardins' NHL equivalencies. 08-09: 8-12-20; 09-10: 82gp, 7-8-15. Those numbers tell us that his injuries had a major impact on last season's offense and that we'll need to pay close attention to his offense this season. 48 points in 58 WHL games as a 16-year old is tremendous output, but last season's 16 points in 26 games tells us he wasn't the same player. It would be wonderful to have time-on-ice totals, but the WHL doesn't release them to the general public. Reefer madness would no doubt ensue should they break the code.
- I put a lot of importance on words from Mike Remmerde. He is Redline Report's WHL scout and has a gift for straight talk that should see him replace Pierre Mcguire on the tsn draft broadcast during my lifetime. Remmerde is the Mel Kiper of the Western Hockey League. Remmerde: Curtis Hamilton / LW: If they still had the opt-in rule, his agent might tell him to wait until next year. Two broken collarbones adds some uncertainty. I was hoping he'd answer the questions this year I had about his somewhat soft style of play, but that didn't really happen this year. Has good hockey sense and some hands, but I can't decide if this guy could be a steal outside of the top 100 picks or too much of a risk. I think I'd just let some team with extra 3rd/4th round picks grab him.
All of the above information is readily available on the internet. It gives us a nice view of Hamilton, and tells us the positive and the negative. History tells us it will be an uphill battle for him (48th overall suggests he'll play a little in the NHL but not on a skill line) and that he was a bit of a reach pick by the Oilers (Bob McKenzie had him 57, International Scouting 60).
Redline ranked him #121, saying "Terrific size/talent; bum shoulder isn't coming around."
Whch brings us to this weekend. Curtis Hamilton was an invite to Canada's World Junior evaluation camp, and although he didn't get much black ink from the gathered media there is a reference to his getting an assist on a fluke goal by Tyler Seguin. It's a start and that's a good thing. The C&B guys scored well by getting Fred Furlong (beauty name) to report from the evaluation camp and I encourage you to check out his reports from more on Hamilton (and Olivier Roy, who looks like he might make the Christmas team).
The main positive we can take from this weekend is that "Curtis Hamilton" and "injury" didn't show up as an item. He appears to have turned some heads and a strong start in the dub this fall may mean a return invite for the winter heartbreak (named because of that horrible annual event--the early morning phone call and trip to the airport. Bad hair day and media hoards in the hotel lobby) that happens for every World Junior tournament.
It's a positive arrow for Curtis Hamilton. We're on the road.