BOSTON -- After being drafted eighth overall by the Bruins in 2007, Zach Hamill is in his fifth training camp with the team. With three seasons in the AHL but only four NHL games under his belt, Hamill is hoping to shed the "prospect" label and finally crack the big club.
Hamill has received some criticism over the last two seasons as fans and media wonder if he will ever realize his potential. Earlier this summer, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli defended his pick of Hamill in an interview with ESPNBoston.com when talking about young players who could make an impact this season.
“We’ve got guys that have had good years in Providence,” Chiarelli said. “A guy like [Max] Suave. He had a terrific year in Providence. A guy like [Jamie] Arniel, he had a terrific year in Providence. Even Hamill, he’s been much maligned but he can play at the pro level. So you’ve got guys that are going to push and they may surprise.”
When appraised of Chiarelli’s comments, Hamill was happy to know Chiarelli still has faith that he can pan out.
“He knows I am working hard and I have been really focused this summer so that’s good he’s noticing that," Hamill said. "He told me to work on my skating and I think this summer I’ve been on the ice more than I ever was. This summer has really helped and I think the advice he gave me has really helped.”
Hamill believes he has made progress since last season's training camp, playing three NHL games against Detroit, Montreal and San Jose last February and having a strong finish to the season in Providence.
“The three teams I played were three high-end teams and then being around the guys was a great experience," he said. "I also had a good offseason, working on my speed and conditioning. I know it’s a deep team here, but this is another opportunity to show what I’ve learned and make it a tough decision for the coaches and management.”
Coach Claude Julien has noticed that Hamill is playing with increased confidence and is looking forward to seeing it on display in game action during the preseason.
“I’ve seen more confidence in Zach,” Julien said. “Zach has struggled a little bit with that in the past but right now he’s shown that after the amount of years he’s been at our camp that it’s a time for him to show that he’s benefited from it. And he’s one of those guys that you’ll probably see more of what he can do in a game situation than in practice because he’s a smart player and smart individual and he can make some real nice plays. So we’ll get a chance to see that from him.”