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Like his brother, Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton, Freddie Hamilton is also a product of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs. Since he has already managed 29 NHL games, briefly cracking the lineups of both the Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks, he comes in at #13 on our list.
Hamilton came to the Avalanche in a one-for-one trade, him to Denver and Karl Stollery to San Jose. A fifth-round draft pick for the Sharks, Hamilton began the year with their AHL affiliate Worcester Sharks. Called up for only a single game, he was playing in Worcester at the time of the trade.
Who is Freddie Hamilton?
In the OHL and AHL, Hamilton acquired a reputation as a physical forward with a defensively-focused game, although he manages to generate points here and there. Though he isn’t the biggest body around on NHL ice, the centerman works hard along the boards and compensates for his admittedly-weak puck protection skills with a defensively-minded playstyle.
Hamilton and his brother played together at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships, winning a bronze medal for Team Canada.
Hamilton scored his first NHL goal in March 2014, a game-winner against the Arizona Coyotes:
What is the future for Freddie Hamilton?
Hamilton is in an interesting place for the Avalanche at the moment, as the team aren’t exactly hurting for centers. His $626,000 cap hit pits him beside current fourth line fixture Marc-Andre Cliche, who is a free agent after the 2016-17 season.
Slightly higher up the centerman salary chart is Jesse Winchester, who missed the entire 2014-15 season due to a preseason concussion, and Joey Hishon, who spent some time on everything from the fourth to second line toward the end of the Avalanche’s season. The former has another year remaining on his contract and the latter is a restricted free agent this offseason.
With Hishon sure to be re-signed and Winchester retaining another year on his contract, is there a place for Freddie Hamilton on the bottom six? Not immediately, no. Is it possible his signing was a contract dump? No, given that Karl Stollery’s contract expired this year as well. Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy must have felt that Hamilton was a better investment than Stollery, who failed to impress them.
While playing for Niagara, Hamilton was capable of some absolute stunner moves:
If the Avalanche renew Hamilton’s contract, expect him to start the year in San Antonio with the team’s new AHL affiliate, the Rampage. He could potentially grow into a full-time bottom-six NHL player. One edge he has on Marc-Andre Cliche is that while Cliche is 28, Hamilton is only 23. If Hamilton’s play continues to improve, he could see himself centering the fourth line.
Skills-wise, Hamilton’s ceiling is higher than Cliche’s. He’s a talented young player with a reputation for working hard to prove himself valuable, something we already know Sakic and Roy take note of. The Avalanche’s fourth line has a reputation for being possession-poor and defensively fragile–a sturdy, defensive center like Freddie Hamilton could relieve some of the pressure there, provided he grows into the role.
When Hamilton was called up to fill a spot on the injury-riddled Avalanche roster in March, Patrick Roy said it was a good opportunity for him to “showcase himself.” We’ll see if Roy and Sakic liked what they saw.