As I continue to share with you my wish list made up of one player from each team in the NHL, please remember that I am NOT discussing the obvious choices (i.e., each team’s best player) and that, while I am doing this mostly for fun and to generate friendly discussion, I am serious when I say that I believe each player I highlight would make the Buffalo Sabres a better team!
When I thought of sharing my ideas on which player from each NHL team could benefit the Buffalo Sabres, I neglected to consider one thing: some of you hate, I mean despise, some of the other teams so much that you wouldn’t take any of their players, even if they worked for free. You reminded me of these pretty quickly, however, since the first team I covered was none other than the Philadelphia Flyers.
Well, if you thought you hated the Flyers . . . .
Dougie Hamilton, Defense
This is the second really young player (19 ) that I have highlighted in a row, the first being Richard Panik of the Tampa Bay Lightning. No, I am not doing this on purpose; after all, I discussed Wayne Simmonds, and he’s 24 and is already in his fifth NHL season. Truth be told, I was tempted to go with Milan Lucic over Hamilton, but I was certain of two things:
a. the Sabres would never acquire the guy who took out Ryan Miller from behind, for fear their fans would burn the First Niagara Center down; and
b. most of you would never read my writing again if I tried to seriously argue that Lucic should ever, ever, ever, ever be a member of the Buffalo Sabres.
Lest you think I only chose Hamilton because I feared you would hate me for picking Lucic, however, take a close look at what Hamilton has done in his young hockey career so far. In his first year in the OHL, playing for the Niagara Ice Dogs, Hamilton scored 16 points on 3 goals and 13 assists in 64 games. The next season, those numbers jumped to 58 points on 12 goals and 46 assists in 67 games . . . but even those numbers were topped the following year, when he scored 72 points on 17 goals and 55 assists in just 50 games. His +/- that year? An astounding +37! (It was “only” a +35 the year before.) His playoff numbers in the OHL will show you that he was good for a point per game, as he has amassed 40 points (9 goals, 31 assists) in 39 games. For the love of Wayne, there’s forwards who aren’t good for a point per game in the minor leagues.
How’s he doing in the NHL, you ask? Having played 39 games this year, the young blueliner has 15 points on 4 goals and 11 assists for the Bruins, with a +4 rating. The only other defenseman with better numbers for the Bruins is (of course) Zdeno Chara, who has scored 17 points on 7 goals and 10 assists, with a +13. Folks: the kid is only 19, and he’s the Bruins’ second-best scoring D-man. God help the NHL when he is in his prime.
And did I mention he doesn’t mind throwing his 6’5″ frame around a bit?
I can hear some of you now: “The Sabres already have too many blueliners! Why would you want to add another one?” To which I would ask, did you watch many Sabres’ games this year? This team gave up the most shots out of any team in the NHL, and there were only 7 teams in the NHL that gave up more goals per game. Our offense was 21st in the NHL, and the Sabres have only 2 defensemen who have scored more than 10 points this season. A lot of defensemen does not a GOOD defense make. Hamilton will improve the Sabres on both ends of the ice.
And no, I am not advocating the Sabres try and replace Tyler Myers with someone like Dougie Hamilton. I agree that Myers did not have a great season before he went down with an injury, and I remember writing a few pieces in which I implored the Sabres to make Myers a healthy scratch in order to give him a wake-up call. But there’s a difference between being disappointed, and being bat $#!& crazy, thank you very much! Myers is 6’8″ and is going to continue to learn how to use his size and length to play more within himself on both ends of the ice, so no, I don’t want to get rid of him. On the contrary – picture a defense that skates the 6’8″ Myers on one shift, followed by the 6’5″ Hamilton on the next! Fearsome, which is why Dougie Hamilton is the Bruin I would most like to see playing for the Buffalo Sabres.
Feel free to agree or disagree by leaving your comments below, or try to convince me that I am crazy @theamazingMrS!