Bruins

Hamilton could be in Boston sooner than expected

607514.jpg

Hamilton could be in Boston sooner than expected

When Dougie Hamilton took part in Bruins development camp last summer it was pretty clear just how high his ceiling could be as a professional. It was also apparent just how much work the 18-year-old had in front of him to develop the required strength to compete at the NHL level.

But Hamilton steadily improved through that week of camp and showed flashes of excellence before getting returned to his OHL team, the Niagara Ice Dogs, for the upcoming junior season. Last week, the Bs announced Hamilton's new three-year entry level contract prior to his foray into the World Junior Hockey Tournament with Team Canada.

I dont think I was really too focused on the contract too much. I just wanted to improve everyday and work hard, said Hamilton, who has 12 goals and 45 points in 30 games this season. I just want to get better and do the things I need to do in order to achieve my dreams.

So I think thats one step closer to becoming an NHL player and I think its something that most of the guys, all the prospects do when they are getting closer to make that jump. For me, I am just really excited and am just going to keep working as hard as I can to make the Bruins.

Hamilton has exploded offensively and defensively this season in Niagara, and will compete for a spot at the NHL level next season after showing such impressive growth at the junior level. Chiarelli didnt shy away from comparisons to young Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn, but it seems that perhaps Bostons 2011 first round pick could eventually aspire to an even higher ground as a player.

Based on what I saw, and based on how I think hell develop, I think he will compete for a roster spot, said Chiarelli, who said that Hamilton could play a handful of games for the Providence Bruins at the end of this season if his junior hockey career is over. The size, skating, range, is all there . . . He finishes with authority. Hes not a crasher and a banger. His gap is always so good; his checking is almost like, just separating. He doesnt need that big gap to hit a guy. Hes always there, so he just separates.

The big question with Hamiltons signing and potential debut in Boston next season is how that affects the rest of the defensemen crew next season.

Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid are all signed for next season, and will be back. But Johnny Boychuk and Joe Corvo are both unrestricted free agents after this season, and its certain that Boychuk wants to re-sign with Boston if given a fair offer. Corvo would likely want to wait out the season before taking a deal. Good thing, because it seems that Chiarelli is going to play out free agency and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement this summer before making final decisions.

It stands to reason that the teenaged Hamilton could be looked at as a potentially cheaper alternative to either of those two defensemen if the salary cap drops dramatically, but Chiarelli said those kinds of decisions were a long way off. Things could potentially change in his mind if Boychuk keeps improving as a top-four NHL defenseman, but that also means the rugged Boychuks price tag could rise dramatically around the league.

I dont really put them together yet. Well see how Dougie Hamilton plays the rest of the year and well see how our guys play the rest of the year, said Chiarelli. There are a lot of factors involved, but I think Hamilton will challenge for a spot next year.

With Chara on the shelf for the next handful of games with a lower body injury (believed to be a left knee issue), the Bruins captain seems mortal for one of the first times in his career. Big 'Z' isnt getting any younger, and Hamilton seems like a natural future partner for Chara when Hamilton eventually begins to learn his way around the NHL.

What better place for a future No. 1 Bs defenseman to learn his craft?

Cracking the Bs lineup is what I am working towards right now. I think Ive improved a lot since I got drafted and over the course of the year. Obviously the team is really good and they are doing really well right now, Hamilton said. For me, thats a goal of mine. Im working as hard as I can and I think next summer is going to be an important one for me as far as my development and for my future.

Its still a long way off in the grand scheme of things, but it seems the Dougie Hamilton Era in Boston is a closer than anybody might have thought.

Kenny Agostino looking forward to 'the right opportunity' with the Bruins

cp-bruins-agostino-092217.jpg

Kenny Agostino looking forward to 'the right opportunity' with the Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s been a few different stints with a few different NHL teams for 25-year-old Kenny Agostino, so he knows the drill at this point in his pro hockey career. The Bruins signed Agostino as a free agent on July 1 after he led the AHL in scoring last season, and they gave him a one-way contract as a show of proof that he’d get his chances at the NHL level.

It didn’t happen immediately out of camp as Agostino was felled by a concussion for part of the preseason, but he’ll get his chance now with injuries and ineffectiveness creating an opening for him on the Black and Gold. Agostino should get a look as the left winger on the third line after lighting it up in Providence with two goals and seven points in his first three games with the P-Bruins, and he’s looking forward to seizing another chance at the NHL level after stints with the Flames and Blues. 

MORE BRUINS:

“I’ve been doing this a few years and I like to think I’ve developed my game outside of my offensive ability,” said the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Agostino, who had 24 goals and 83 points for the Chicago Wolves last season. “That’s kind of been my goal to become more of a complete player. I’m excited and looking forward to another opportunity and just want to make the most of it. I’m not looking past tonight.

“I was fortunate as a college guy to get my first pro experience at the NHL level in Calgary, but then you understand how difficult it is to establish yourself. You need a lot of different things. You need the right opportunity and you need to do well with it, so it makes you appreciate how great of an opportunity it is anytime you get to play in this league.”

Certainly, the Bruins are anxious to get a look at Agostino, and probably Peter Cehlarik at some point soon, and the lack of production from some of the NHL incumbents have fast-forwarded that process a little bit. Agostino will replace Ryan Spooner along the half-wall on the first power play unit, and perhaps he can add the kind of scoring touch in the bottom-6 that Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano haven’t been able to thus far.

“We know Kenny is going to start in Spooner’s power play spot, he’s done it before and he’s had some success at the lower levels when given that opportunity. Obviously he’ll play left behind [Brad] Marchand and [Jake] DeBrusk, probably on the third line spot,” said Cassidy. “He’s played with [Riley] Nash yesterday [at practice] so there’s a good chance he’ll play with him today.”

The Bruins certainly need a spark after limping out to a 2-3-0 start to the season in the first five games, so perhaps a hungry Agostino can do that while being given a legit chance to show what he can do by the Black and Gold. 

Tuukka Rask out indefinitely for Bruins with a concussion

Tuukka Rask out indefinitely for Bruins with a concussion

BRIGHTON, Mass – Tuukka Rask has been diagnosed with a concussion, and will be out indefinitely for the Bruins after getting trucked in Wednesday’s Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena.

The good news is that the 30-year-old Rask hasn’t previously dealt with concussion issues in his NHL career, but the bad news that it looked like a fairly serious concussion after Anders Bjork crashed into him during line rush drills at Bruins practice. It’s still unclear if Bjork caught an edge and crashed into Rask during drills, or if there was contact with another player that thrust the B’s rookie, who needed stitches on his chin as well, into the unsuspecting Bruins goalie for the rare violent collision during an off-day hockey practice. 

MORE BRUINS:

“It’s not really easy. Last year I had a couple of collisions and it doesn’t feel good,” said Anton Khudobin. “Sometimes you get run over in a game and you kind of expect that it’s coming, but in the practices maybe you’re not expecting it. I don’t know. It’s not fun.” 

Rask had to be helped off the ice by his teammates and was spaghetti-legged and unsteady on his feet as he made his way off the way, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect him to miss 7-10 days at a minimum based on NHL concussion protocol. 

Clearly it’s a blow to the Bruins to lose their No. 1 goaltender while struggling to stabilize their game weeks into the regular season, and for Rask it continues a tough season where he’s off to a 1-3-0 start with a 3.30 goals against average and .882 save percentage behind a leaky defense. 

So Anton Khudobin will step in on Thursday night for Rask coming off a 29-save win over the Arizona Coyotes last weekend, and P-Bruins netminder Zane McIntyre will serve as Khudobin’s backup goalie on an emergency basis.

“You don’t want to see that, but at the same time we’ve got to keep moving forward and hopefully he’s going to get better soon,” said Khudobin. “I feel good. Camp was good and everything is fine, and I’ve started better than last year. My role is just day-to-day. Today is a game day and hopefully, you get a good result, and then tomorrow is another new day.”

It remains to be seen how quickly or slowly that Rask recovers from this concussion, but there is concern as more than a few NHL goalies have suffered from recurring issues once they start going down the path with concussion issues. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE