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Hamilton is big addition

Bruins’ top pick bolsters blue line

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was taken first by the Oilers. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was taken first by the Oilers. (Nick Laham/Getty Images)
By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / June 25, 2011

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ST. PAUL — After the Bruins selected Dougie Hamilton with the ninth overall pick last night at the Xcel Energy Center, the 18-year-old approached the team’s table in the back right corner of the floor. As Hamilton shook Cam Neely’s hand, the Bruins president had to look up at the 6-foot-4-inch, 193-pound defenseman.

That’s never a bad thing.

“I think I’m a big, complete defenseman,’’ Hamilton said. “I can skate well, am pretty physical, make good passes, and contribute offensively as well.’’

The return for Phil Kessel from Toronto is now complete: Tyler Seguin, Jared Knight, and Hamilton, a right-shot defenseman who compared himself to Jay Bouwmeester, Rob Blake, and Brent Burns. General manager Peter Chiarelli seconded the Blake comparable because of Hamilton’s size and shot. The wide-shouldered Hamilton is considered a two-way defenseman who is still rounding out his frame.

“I’ve grown a lot in the last couple years,’’ Hamilton said. “I haven’t really filled into my body yet. I’m working hard in the gym right now. I need to work a lot harder to get bigger. That will help with my physical game as well. I think I have to improve everything. The guys in the NHL are a lot better than OHL players.’’

Hamilton, a Toronto native, played for Niagara of the Ontario Hockey League the last two seasons. In 2010-11, Hamilton had 12 goals and 46 assists for 58 points in 67 games and finished third in OHL Top Defenseman voting. Hamilton made a significant leap from his first year in the OHL, when he totaled 3 goals and 13 assists in 64 games.

“Tremendous skater,’’ said Chiarelli. “Good offensive instincts. Good stick. He’s a very smart player on the ice. Good range. Has a good physical side to his game.’’

The Bruins also considered Ryan Murphy, who went three slots later to Carolina. Hamilton isn’t considered as creative a puck-moving defenseman as Murphy. But Chiarelli noted that Hamilton can spot seams, complete passes, and get pucks up to his forwards.

Hamilton was the No. 4-ranked North American skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau.

One of Hamilton’s mentors has been ex-NHL defenseman Mike Van Ryn. The former Leaf is an assistant coach for Niagara. When he was a player, Van Ryn was a two-way blue liner who contributed offensively.

“Huge,’’ Hamilton said of Van Ryn’s influence. “Just a guy that can come out two years of the NHL and start teaching kids. He knows what it takes to get to the NHL. He’s helped me a lot and told me how I needed to play to make that jump. I think I did well this year with that. There’s a lot of parts of my game I need to improve in order to be an NHL player. But I think he’s going to help me with those, too.’’

Hamilton will attend the Bruins’ development camp next month. Hamilton has been invited to Team Canada’s development camp in August. The camp, which will be held in Edmonton and Fort McMurray, Alberta, is the first step in determining Canada’s roster for the World Junior Championship.

Hamilton will also participate in the Bruins’ rookie camp and main training camp. Hamilton is not considered NHL-ready at this point.

“I’d say he needs a little more developing,’’ Chiarelli said. “He’s still fairly skinny. He has to be stronger. You never know. But my guess is that he’ll be at least a year away.’’

As one of the four top-ranked North American skaters (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, and Jonathan Huberdeau were the others), Hamilton visited TD Garden prior to Game 3 of the Cup Final. Hamilton ducked into each dressing room after each morning skate. In the Boston room, Hamilton exchanged words with Tyler Seguin, who played against older brother Freddie Hamilton in juniors. He then attended Game 3, which the Bruins won by an 8-1 score.

“It was awesome,’’ Hamilton said of his Game 3 experience. “The fans were standing the whole time and cheering. That picture’s in my head right now.’’

Hamilton hails from athletic bloodlines. Father Doug was an Olympic rower for Canada. In 1984, the elder Hamilton won a bronze medal. That same year, mother Lynn was a member of Canada’s Olympic basketball team. Older brother Freddie has been his Niagara teammate for the last two seasons. Freddie Hamilton is a center who was selected in last year’s fifth round by San Jose.

“Obviously an athletic family,’’ Dougie Hamilton said. “Good to be part of it. Pretty good genes, too.’’

The Bruins could look for goalie help today. Anton Khudobin has an offer from a KHL club. The Bruins will not tender Matt Dalton, who split time between Providence and Reading last year. The only pro prospect they have is Michael Hutchinson, their third-round pick from 2008.

“We really have to shore up that end of it,’’ Chiarelli said.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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