GREY DAYS

 

It all started so well: a second round draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers and a part of Northern Alberta’s latest rebuild—this time on the ice at Rexall Place. Hamilton celebrated with an outstanding final season in junior (which included the World Junior experience representing Canada) and turned pro in the fall of 2011. Two and a half years later, Curtis Hamilton hasn’t progressed and is nearing the end of his entry level deal. What’s next?

THE OPTIONS

  1. Hamilton could play well enough during the rest of this season to earn a second contract. His entry level deal expires in the spring, but he’s still 6.02, 214 and can skate, so there’s a market for him if he can deliver some offense. That’s been a problem during his time in the AHL, Hamilton has played 112 regular season games and has scored 10-12-22 (or 16 points per 82 games). So far this season he’s been in a strictly fourth line role and that isn’t going to get it done. More than anything, Hamilton needs to take advantage of any opportunity given to move up the depth chart. There’s no real way of knowing when that chance will come, but it’s a long season and if he can chip in and establish value coach Todd Nelson will use him more (the Barons aren’t the 1987 Oilers, they have holes and opportunities). 
  2. Hamilton could find employment with another NHL team and try his luck in another organization. Stranger things have happened, sometimes a new look or perspective is all a player needs to transform his game and begin heading in the right direction. Hamilton was a fairly high draft pick, there will be interest in him should the Oilers choose to let him go at the end of his entry level deal. 
  3. Hamilton could head to Europe, which can sometimes be very beneficial for young players trying to find their way. A different style of game and less actual games (some Euro league practice all week and play mostly on weekends) might give him a chance to work on aspects of his game that are currently wanting. More than a few useful NHL players have gone this route, and recent examples include BJ Crombeen and Jesse Joensuu. 

In July 2013, Bruce McCurdy wrote an interesting article over at the Cult of Hockey and gave a very interesting view on Hamilton and his career progress:

  • McCurdy: By eye Hamilton impresses as a competent defensive player, at times reminding this observer of a young Fernando Pisani. That said, I never actually saw the young Fernando Pisani, who was 26 and nearly fully developed by the time he made the Oilers, having no doubt suffered many of his growing pains while playing four years of NCAA hockey. For a youngster like Curtis Hamilton who has chosen to go the major junior/minor pro route, the path of expectations is accelerated even as it can take years for someone of his player type to mature into a useful contributor. And in order to make it as a two-way guy, some sign of offence is still essential. 20 points in 102 pro games doesn’t cut it at any age.

He’s played 10 AHL games since then and has 2 points, pretty much identical to his career numbers. 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

From a distance it’s tough to tell what’s gone wrong here. Todd Nelson hasn’t seen enough in this player to move him up the depth chart and Hamilton hasn’t done enough to force the issue. I can’t comment on Hamilton’s playing style—is he avoiding the tough areas, is he getting 8 minutes a night—but these last two-and-a-half seasons have the look of wasted time. 

One thing that we’ve heard to be true since Craig MacTavish took over—a renewed emphasis on development of the high draft picks—has yet to shine a light on Hamilton. He is slotted on to the second line tonight, perhaps we’ll see something come of it.

Curtis Hamilton is healthy now and has about 50 games opportunity to show the Oilers he’s worth another contract. There’s not much to recommend him, but there was a time when he was judged to be among the 50 best draft eligible teenagers on the planet. 

We wait, but not much longer. 

(Hamilton photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved)

  • **

    Is it not time to cut this guy loose? He has been given enough of an opportunity and we need to start sigining and playing more of our draft choices together.

    Next year presents many opportunities for guys from 2011, 2012, 2013 drafts to be signed to ECL’s. I like the idea of playing the youth on one team if possible and teaching them the ways of professional hockey in preperation to make the big jump.

    Now that we have a development team down in the AHL, let’s use it to full impact. Get rid of what is not working, and who is not playing well and replace them with youth.

  • Lowetide

    There was a time when I thought that Hamilton was going to be the biggest surprise of the Oiler drafts – his solid (if unspectacular) performance at the World Juniors supported this belief. Sadly, his pro performance hasn’t reflected this.

    Hamilton is an enigma that maybe suggests that the biggest difference between the NHL and other leagues may mental, or at least intangible.

    LT – could injuries have had a significant role in this lack of development? Pitlick seems to have overcome his to a small extent.

    • Lowetide

      I’m sure it has had a major impact on his development, Hamilton spent a lot of time injured BEFORE he was drafted. However, injuries are part of the game, Hamilton wouldn’t be the first prospect to lose his career to injuries.

  • Lowetide

    getting away off topic here …OMG … watching oiler n nucks on CBC. Can you please start a petition to get rid of the clown that’s announcing. Lord. it’s like hearing a golf game.
    Rant O the day.

    • Lowetide

      Are you serious? The Oilers are pathetic, chronic losers with hundreds and hundreds of losses since 2006 and have young superstars on there roster who have basically quit on the team and your worried about a TV announcer?

      Sad sad times in Oiler land.

    • Lowetide

      Ference is awful. No way he should be the captain. Brutal What is wrong with letting a young stud have it.
      I guess when your wife and Kevin Lowe’s are best buds you treated better than others.

  • Lowetide

    Good night for a rant ..I hate the goddamm Nuckleheads and the Hemsky’s of the world make them look like world beaters. How many years have we seen that human giveaway machine screw up a good rush with a toe drag or some idiot move and turnover back the other way that usually leads to a goal. The coaches are quick to lean on Yak and others but this guy should just be gone for a bag of pucks.

    • Lowetide

      After that defensive mess how can you even complain about any forwards. They spend so much time being pushed around its embarrassing. Larson and Belov didn’t slip through the cracks of other teams, they were ignored.

      • Lowetide

        You are right it was a team effort. I forgot that no hit hockey was back, just drape yourself against somebody and maybe they will slip or lose an edge. Pitiful !

  • Oilerz4life

    Lowtide, slow day at the office, you have to write up on Hamilton…. this guy is, and was a non factor from day one. My recollection of this guy was at the WJC, I couldn’t believe this guy was on the team… nothing has changed from that period on.No surprise here, and not a story.

  • As mentioned many times on here. Was never a fan of this pick. Was stunned that he even made the WJC team and am not surprised in the least that he is struggling.

    He never did have IT (in my estimation). Although a stint with Schenn the younger did hold some promise in junior, schenn…. like many before him was good enough to optically skew the facts.

    Who was it played wing for Sid the Kid in junior again?

  • TayLordBalls

    #Lowetide

    The first part of the rebuild should have been to fire the entire scouting staff.

    A monkey with a dart board could have done as well at drafting.