Future Watch: Curtis Hamilton
20-year-old forward adjusting to his pro career with the OKC Barons
He is a consistent contributor to an Oklahoma City Barons roster that currently sits at the top of the league standings. But his season didn't start that way. The OKC coaching staff thought Hamilton would benefit from sitting a couple of games and watching the pro game from press row.
"Early on in the season I did sit out quite a few games and it did have its benefits I think," Hamilton said. "No one likes to sit out but getting a chance to... watch the game, take everything in it's been good for my development. I think it's been really good for me."
Since that time, Hamilton has appeared in 23 games for OKC, scoring two goals and tallying five assists. He has played regularly for the Barons flashing signs of progress and promise.
|Hamilton is starting to find confidence at the pro level.|
"I think early in the season he was trying to find his way," OKC head coach Todd Nelson said. "It was a situation like with any young player, we had a lot of numbers. He was in the lineup, he was out of the lineup. Lately he's been able to play pretty regular so with that, he gained confidence."
Confidence is a key issue for Hamilton as a young player making the jump from the WHL to the AHL. The 20-year-old's confidence has continued to build and build with each game.
"I think everything has got a little better," Hamilton said, "I think the coaches have a bit more confidence in me and I feel a little bit more comfortable out there. Earlier on... I was kind of sitting out games so just to go in and know you've got a chance to play in the lineup kind of gives you some more confidence in your play especially. So I think that's really showing."
"I think with him trying to find himself, early in the year he was a bit tentative," said Nelson."(He was) just trying to figure things out. Now he's more comfortable in his surroundings."
In his final season with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL, Hamilton lit the lamp 26 times and totaled 56 assists in 62 games. While the jump to the pros is a big one, Hamilton says that his time in Saskatoon helped prepare him for the AHL.
"The WHL style of play is a lot similar to the pro style... Everyone up here is a lot stronger and the puck moves faster but the way the schedule is made out with 72 games down there it's similar and the travel on the bus... I think that I wouldn't be the player I am today without going through the WHL."
|Hamilton put up good numbers in junior with the Blades.|
For Hamilton, the future is bright. He has good size at 6-2, 205 pounds and he has been successful nearly everywhere he has played. He finished last season with a plus-minus of +48 and earned a silver medal each of the last two years playing for Team Canada in the World Junior Championships.
The Barons and the Edmonton Oilers have nothing but high hopes for Hamilton at the professional level.
"He's a big guy," said Nelson."He has a nose for the net and he's a very smart hockey player. With that intelligence... I think that's going to carry him a long way."
It's only a matter of time and development before Hamilton shows off his talents at the professional level.
"Right now, we like his progress with where he's at and we've just got to continue to work with him. I think moving forward that he's a big body with intelligence and that's a pretty rare thing."
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