Will Dougie Hamilton continue to follow Victor Hedman’s career path? (Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
Victor Hedman has most definitely arrived. His sixth season in the NHL, despite an injury detour early in the season, has cemented his status as one of the top defensemen in the league. The Bruins could use someone like that, and they can only hope Dougie Hamilton becomes such an impact player.
They can do more than hope, actually. They can look at the players’ career paths and project accordingly.
Like Hamilton, Hedman is a big, skilled, offensively creative defenseman whose detractors note a lack of physicality. He was also a top prospect in his draft (second overall in 2009).
Hedman’s bigger than Hamilton; he’s 6-foot-6 and, after coming into the league at 220 pounds, is now listed at 230 pounds. Hamilton is 6-foot-5 and 212 pounds. He could stand to continue to bulk up.
Yet where Hamilton has Hedman ‘ and pretty much everyone ‘ is how his career has begun. If Hamilton has reached his ceiling, he’ll be a solid player who has a solid career. There’s little reason to think that, however, as he has outperformed plenty of great defensemen who ascended to stardom after their first three seasons.
Back in April, we compared Hamilton to P.K. Subban, Drew Doughty, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Alex Pietrangelo, looking at the how they performed in their entry-level contracts and noting the contracts those players got. Given that Hedman has become one of the top young blueliners in the game, it’s worth revisiting with his numbers as well.
As the following table shows, Hamilton had better offensive numbers and possession numbers than Hedman, though Hedman had tougher assignments. given that, the two are a pretty close comparison.
Because Hedman didn’t put up the offensive numbers the other guys here did, he didn’t get as big a contract as the others. That is great for the Lightning right now, but it also means that their best defenseman is going to be in line for a monster extension in two seasons and will have unrestricted free agent status as a 26 year-old. Teams are probably grabbing their lawn chairs and getting in line as we speak.
As such, term is the name of the game. Eight years (the maximum allowable for teams re-signing players) is ideal. The Bruins have no argument that Hamilton won’t be as good as any of these players, as the only information available suggests he’ll be as good or better. If the Bruins go short-term with Hamilton, it could burn them the way doing so with Subban burned the Canadiens.
At the moment, Hamilton is not as good as Doughty, Hedman or Subban. He may never be, but saying that is nothing more than a guess. His career to this point suggests he will be worth the large investment the Bruins make.