Curtis Hamilton has long been an interesting prospect. Though he was injured in his draft year the Oilers rolled the dice on him based on an impressive prior WHL season. Will they reap an NHL player out of that gamble?
Career Probabilities is a new series that attempts to place a likelihood on Oilers’ prospects reaching a given career threshold. For the concept, please see the first post in the series.
One of the difficulties in building a list of comparables for Hamilton is the same as it was in the case of Tyler Pitlick: he jumped to the AHL in the second year after being drafted. This is a rare thing, and it seems to get rarer as one gets further into the past.
I was only able to find nine players who fit into my criteria; here’s the list:
Criteria: Drafted between 33rd and 63rd overall between 1995 and 2007, height greater than 72 inches, broadly similar scoring rates at the same level at the same age.
It is not a particularly impressive list, and the guys with a performance closest to Hamiltons’ 2011-12 work in Oklahoma are people like Burki, Graham, Ralph and Beaudoin, a quartet that combined for a total of one NHL game (on a related note: if anybody wants a super-fancy and totally worthless Brad Ralph rookie card, I’m the guy to get in touch with).
The larger group of guys who weren’t included in the model (mostly players who jumped to the AHL a year after Hamilton) is pretty similar. People like Mike Leclerc (who followed a similar career path but significantly outperformed Hamilton in each season) are the cream of the crop; there are a few more guys like Blunden and a few less like Graham in the mix but the composition is pretty similar.
Here is my assessment of his career probabilities:
The best case scenario from the short list is a career similar to Nick Spaling’s. Again, we are dealing with a small sample here so I would be hesitant to call that Hamilton’s absolute ceiling. As with the piece on Pitlick, James Neal might very well be on the shortlist had he jumped to the AHL (though Neal was extremely young for his draft year and Hamilton was toward the older end). I think that’s an awfully blue-sky projection, though: there is a very good chance that Hamilton never plays a significant number of games at the NHL level.
Most likely outcome: Good minor-league depth player who gets an NHL cup of coffee, similar to Shane Endicott.
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