So far this season, one thing is for sure: we are all just bit players in a world that is indisputably Dougie Hamilton’s.
Through ten games, Hamilton is the Hurricanes’ leading points scorer with 11 (6g, 5a). His six goals are the most in the league among defensemen. His usage at all strengths has seen a significant increase since last season, and he’s really taken advantage of it. Hamilton is now featured on the top power play unit, getting over a minute more time on the man advantage per game than last season.
In Justin Faulk’s absence, Hamilton is shining.
Hamilton has been coming up big in key situations, and has continually proven himself as one of the best goal scorers on the roster. He has an incredible ability to get pucks through traffic to the net from the point, which is part of the reason why the team creates so many scoring chances when he’s on the ice.
Hamilton has passed the eye test with flying colors this season. As usual, he’s also impressed on the stat sheet. As expected, Hamilton remains a solid possession player. He creates a ton of shots for, and is generally limiting shots against well, as he has a Shots For Percentage of 55.56%. His Goals For Percentage of 81.82% is even more impressive — that’s good for second best in the NHL, among all players - not just defensemen. His scoring chances for of 58.46% is 12th best in the league, and speaks to his ability to manufacture scoring chances. It’s also worth remembering that he spends a lot of time playing defense with Jaccob Slavin, who happens to be decent in his own end, but regardless Hamilton is far from a passenger on defense.
But none of this is out of the ordinary for Hamilton. He’s always posted solid numbers. The difference this season? His shooting percentage. Hamilton was shooting at 6.9% last season. That sounds bad when you consider that league average hovers somewhere around nine percent, but considering he’s a defenseman who generates a lot of shots from the point, it’s not that ridiculous. In fact, it’s actually pretty nice.
His shooting percentage this season has jumped to 18.2% through the first 10 games, which is pretty unsustainable. I still don’t think it’s ridiculous to expect for his shooting percentage to climb significantly this season as he transforms into a number one defenseman role here in Carolina, but it’s not going to stay around 18 percent.
If Dougie has proven nothing else to this team, it’s that he’s extremely lethal with the puck on his stick in high danger scoring areas. As long as the Hurricanes keep putting him in situations like that, I imagine that Hamilton will continue to impress. Hamilton’s unreal play through the first 10 games of the season has been overshadowed a bit by the play of Capitals defenseman John Carlson, who currently leads the NHL in points. Similar to Carlson, Hamilton’s impact on the score sheet will likely cool off at some point during the season. But there is no question about his status as an elite offensive defenseman.
Hamilton may not be Bobby Orr or Nicklas Lidstrom, but those gentlemen combined to win fifteen Norris Trophies. That said, if he keeps up this level of performance, it’s certainly realistic for Hamilton to be in the conversation for a Norris of his own at season’s end.