FUTURE WATCH | Curtis Hamilton
Curtis Hamilton, in his third professional season, is earning more opportunities in Oklahoma City and working towards his first NHL call up
|Photo by Steven Christy/ OKC Barons
Will forward Curtis Hamilton be the next Edmonton Oilers prospect to earn his first NHL call up?
This season, the Oilers have begun reaping the fruits of their developmental team in the American Hockey League by recalling and evaluating their young talent from the Oklahoma City Barons. Tyler Pitlick, Taylor Fedun and Martin Marincin each have seen time with the Oilers this season on their first NHL call ups.
“It’s a positive thing, for sure,” Hamilton said of all the young players getting NHL action this season. “That’s been the trend this year that they’re putting an onus on developing players and giving the young guys more opportunity down here. A lot of guys have kind of taken it in stride and ran with it. There’s a lot of positive things… A lot of guys have been up and down whereas last year, there may not have been.”
That does seem to be the trend this season. Less AHL veteran players have gotten the phone calls whereas now, it seems like the young bloods are getting their chance. Hamilton was drafted 48th overall in 2010, while his fellow forward was drafted 31st in the same draft. When Pitlick earned his call up earlier this season, it provided a road map for Hamilton.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “It was awesome for him to be called up. Hopefully, he’s back up there again soon. It seems a little bit more real. The past few years it seems they’d call up a couple of different guys but this year, it seems there’s more opportunity. Just to see someone you know pretty well and understand how he plays the game and stuff, he gets the chance to play in the NHL and his game translates very well. So, it kind of gives us all a chance down here.”
Hamilton has equaled his previous career high in goals with five this season, in just 19 games.
“I think it’s a couple of different things. I think, my play personally, I’ve been playing a little bit better this year. I’m a little more consistent and my teammates and linemates have played very well. I’m just starting to get a little bit of luck too recently. Some pucks are starting to bounce my way and that hasn’t been there in the past.”
The flux of the roster has also served as a springboard to more playing time for Hamilton in OKC.
“I think that’s another part of it too. With how the Oilers have been this year, there’s been a bunch of guys going up and down all the time and I think (Barons Head Coach Todd Nelson) kind of looks to guys like myself and Ryan Martindale and Tyler Pitlick as, with all of the other younger guys, we’re some of the more experienced guys on the team here. He relies on us a little bit. That’s a good thing and we’re getting a little bit more opportunity.”
In his third professional season, Hamilton has taken strides forward as both a player and a leader in the AHL.
“I think playing and being a part of the team here for three years, you get more confident and more comfortable with how things work throughout the organization and the league. This year, it’s starting to show a little bit.”
Despite turning 22 in December, Hamilton has embraced the chance to become one of the few ‘veterans’ on the Barons roster this season.
“It turns around pretty quickly how the past couple of years we’ve had older teams and this year, we’re younger. Myself, being here for three years now, (Todd Nelson) and the coaching staff understand how I play the game and I have a pretty good grasp of what they expect systematically and effort wise. I try to bring that every night and they’re leaning on me a little bit more this year.”
This off-season, Hamilton was rehabbing an injury. He didn’t get the chance to participate fully in the Oilers training camp, but he returned to Oklahoma City with some inspiration.
“Whenever I saw staff up there, they told me there is opportunity,” he said. “You just have to go out and work for it. There’s been a lot of guys that have got a shot this year and I hope to keep working on it and hopefully get a shot eventually as well.”
Hamilton doesn’t know if he is next to earn a shot at achieving the dream of playing in the NHL, but he will continue to put forth an effort to get there.
“I don’t think you ever really know. It’s just, lately, I’ve been getting some points and stuff, which has been nice. I just want to keep on being consistent and hopefully one day, sometime soon, I get a chance.”
Barons Player Stats | AHL Standings | Barons Schedule | Past Prospect Stats: 2012-13 | 2011-12
Stats Updated as of Tuesday, January 7, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. MST
|d||19||41||4||7||11||-4||57||EVERETT SILVERTIPS (WHL)|
|f||19||39||24||23||47||25||30||CALGARY HITMEN (WHL)|
|DARNELL NURSE||D||18||40||10||26||36||0||68||SAULT STE. MARIE (OHL)|
|F||18||40||23||15||38||-1||36||VANCOUVER GIANTS (WHL)|
|f||19||30||10||11||21||4||33||EVERETT SILVERTIPS (WHL)|
|F||19||39||23||16||39||16||93||EDMONTON OIL KINGS (WHL)|
|F||18||39||9||8||17||-4||14||LONDON KNIGHTS (OHL)|
|F||24||24||4||5||9||4||59||JOKERIT HELSINKI (FINLAND)|
|F||19||41||2||2||4||3||10||NIZHNY NOVGOROD (RUSSIA)|
|26||16||5||9||2||3.14||.905||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|LAURENT BROSSOIT||20||7||2||4||0||3.53||.885||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|21||4||1||1||1||3.15||.914||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|22||13||n/a||n/a||n/a||3.30||.894||HPK HAMEENLINNA (FINLAND)|