Featuring Niagara's Freddie Hamilton
For San Jose Sharks’ fifth round draft pick, Freddie Hamilton, having the pressure of proving himself as a legitimate prospect has only added fuel to his flame.
The third-year Niagara IceDogs forward is currently riding on an 18-game point streak in the Ontario Hockey League, where he has racked up an impressive 14 goals, 15 assists and 29 points since Jan. 5.
The 19-year-old forward is having a breakout season with the IceDogs, having surpassed both his goals and assists totals for either of his past two seasons in the league. Currently, Hamilton is placed 20th in overall points in the entire OHL with 29 goals, 38 assists, 67 points and a +24 rating in 54 games.
“I just think I have a lot of confidence right now, when you score goals and get your points, you feel pretty good about yourself and the way you’re playing,” Hamilton said. “You try to do more with the puck; that’s what I’ve been doing and hopefully it keeps working for me.”
In his rookie season with Niagara, Hamilton notched 10 goals, 18 assists, and 28 points with 8 penalty minutes, and he continued to grow in his sophomore season, with his totals reading 25 goals, 30 assists, 55 points and 12 penalty minutes.
“What they look for in the NHL as far as prospects go is improvement, and I’ve progressed every year I’ve been in the league and hope to do so again next year,” he said. “I’ve always worked on my weaknesses, and this year to have a bigger role on a winning team will only benefit me in the long run and it’s really fun to be apart of. “
Among the aforementioned stats is a noticeably low amount of time spent in the penalty box. With just 16 penalty minutes so far this season, his career total adds up to just 36 minutes, which under the amount an average player records per-season.
“I think it’s just my smarts on the ice, I work really hard out there and I don’t shy away from anything,” Hamilton explained. “A lot of penalties players take are just lazy stick penalties, especially for forwards, and I just don’t want to spend time in the penalty box, I’d rather be out on the ice contributing.”
However, the lack of penalty minutes shouldn’t reflect on the six-foot-one inch, 190-pounder’s physicality and tenacity on the ice. Hamilton is known to use his size effectively in the danger-areas, while also having the ability to throw a mean, clean hit.
To boot, out of the 36 penalty minutes he’s picked up throughout his OHL career, 15 have come from fighting majors.
“I think I do have to get pretty mad (to fight),” he commented. “It’s not something that happens often for me, but all the instances it has happened we’ve either been loosing a game, or my first fight this year, (his brother) Dougie took a pretty dirty hit, so things will happen like that on the ice and when they do, I’m not afraid to step up.”
His all around style allows him to be effective on the power play, penalty kill and even strength, as his defensive responsibility mixed with his keen offensive prowess allows him to play in all types of situations.
“I view myself as a complete player. I can do whatever the coach needs me to do in any given situation, and I find this year especially, I can score goals while still having the ability to set up players even strength and on the power play,” Hamilton explained. “I play centre and wing so I can win some key draws if someone gets tossed.
“I’ve been compared to Logan Couture in San Jose; he’s a really good complete player that can play a two-way game, so he’s someone I like to model my game around.”
The elite athleticism runs in the Hamilton family, as both his parents were Canadian Olympic Athletes, while his younger brother and IceDogs teammate, Dougie Hamilton, is ranked in the Top 10 for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
“We were always really close our whole lives, but never really got a chance to play with each other, so it was really exciting when we first got that opportunity last year,” he said. ‘”Then, it’s especially exciting this year when we get a chance to play on the same power play unit and be in key situations with each other on the ice.”
If the two brothers had it there way, the Sharks would make a trade for a Top 10 pick and draft Dougie Hamilton to go along with his older brother.
“I don’t know what the chances are of if it working out that way,” he laughed. “Obviously I hope for San Jose to continue doing well and moving up the standings, but if they were to trade for that pick it would be the best-case scenario for us.”
The ’92 birth sits second on the IceDogs in points behind Ryan Strome, and with two seasons of OHL eligibility left to continue to improve, the Sharks may find they have discovered a hidden gem late in the fifth round.
Sidenote: Freddie Hamilton’s smarts go beyond the hockey rink, as the Toronto native maintained an academic average of 99% in 2008-09, making him the top
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