RALEIGH, N.C. — In Monday night’s 5-3 win over the Hurricanes, Dougie Hamilton appeared in his fifth NHL game and set up the deciding goal. On Tuesday against New Jersey, Hamilton will make his sixth NHL appearance. By doing so, this career-opening stretch officially will become Year No. 1 on Hamilton’s three-year entry-level contract.
The Bruins are just fine with that. Hamilton’s days of playing junior in Niagara are over. General manager Peter Chiarelli told Hamilton before Monday’s game that he is now a full-time NHLer.
“He has a lot of poise,” Chiarelli said. “He plays a very mature game. I’m sure inside he felt relieved. But based on how I’ve seen him play, I wouldn’t be surprised to see his game go one way or another, because he’s a real poised, mature player.”
Hamilton will move out of the Boston hotel that had been his home since training camp. Hamilton will live with Adam McQuaid.
“I don’t know if it’s really relief,” Hamilton said of becoming a permanent Bruin. “Just really overall excitement. It’s been my dream ever since I was a little kid to play in the NHL. For me, it’s a dream come true. I just want to keep getting better and having fun.”
The 19-year-old has been so poised and productive that management, coaching staff, and even his teammates are projecting a long and fruitful NHL career.
“So Z [Zdeno Chara] will be 41 at the end of his contract,” Chiarelli noted. “I think he looks at Dougie and thinks he’ll be his partner until then.”
Like all young defensemen, Hamilton will have his valleys. But five games into his NHL career, it might not be too early to declare that a handful of teams erred in the 2011 draft.
Hamilton was No. 3 on the Bruins’ board. He was their top-ranked defenseman, ahead of Adam Larsson. Edmonton picked Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first. Colorado tabbed Gabriel Landeskog with the No. 2 pick. Had the Bruins owned the third overall pick, they would have drafted Hamilton.
Instead, Florida took Jonathan Huberdeau. New Jersey made Larsson the first defenseman picked with the fourth selection. Hamilton fell to ninth. The Bruins didn’t hesitate to make him their property.
Larsson is not on the Devils roster. He is playing for Albany, New Jersey’s AHL affiliate.
On Monday, Hamilton was paired with Dennis Seidenberg. It was the third time the two have skated together on the No. 2 pairing. Hamilton recorded four shots and two hits in 19:19 of ice time. He is averaging 18:18 of ice time per game. If he continues his rapid development, the defenseman will be pushing 20 minutes in no time.
“He’s been extremely good,” coach Claude Julien said. “Better and better every game as he gains confidence. He’s done a lot of great things. I’ve really liked his composure, his vision of the game, and how he moves the puck..”
Seguin breaks through
At 19:52 of the third period, Tyler Seguin finally scored his first goal of the season. That it was an empty-net goal will be a point of ribbing from his teammates. And even from his coach.
“That’s a little bit of the reason why we put him there,” Julien said of Seguin’s late-game appearance on a five-on-five, no-goalie power play. “It certainly wasn’t because of his board play. It was an opportunity for him to get the monkey off his back. If anybody can blow the zone and get to those empty nets, it’s Siggy.”
Before the game, Julien acknowledged Seguin was still struggling with the adjustment to smaller ice. In Switzerland during the lockout, Seguin scored 25 goals in 29 games. He was a force on the wider sheet, where he took advantage of his speed and hands.
The NHL sheet, 15 feet narrower than the international surface, has made for a bumpy re-entry for the third-year pro. Seguin has been blowing the zone early. Opponents have closed on him and reduced his space with the puck.
McQuaid didn’t play because of a personal reason. He is expected to dress against New Jersey on Tuesday . . . Aaron Johnson replaced McQuaid and skated with Andrew Ference on the No. 3 pairing . . . Carolina went 0 for 5 on the power play. The Bruins are 24 for 24 on the PK through five games . . . Milan Lucic fought for the second straight game. With his team trailing, 2-0, Tim Gleason asked Lucic, who accepted the invitation. It was a far tighter scrap than Lucic’s fight last Friday against Matt Carkner, whom he dropped with a straight right . . . Lane MacDermid was the healthy scratch for the fifth straight game.