Prospect Appraisal: Curtis Hamilton

Hamilton & Pitlick
Photo by Rob Feguson. All rights reserved.

The appraisal process of Curtis Hamilton is akin to that of Tyler Pitlick. Both US kids with huge upside. Drafted pretty high in the same year. Both anticipated to be better than they have proved thus far. Both sidetracked by injuries, circumstance, and just dumb, stupid, terrible luck. Like Pitlick, Hamilton had an up and down sophomore pro season, but unlike Pitlick, Hamilton is in for a brutal 2013-14 campaign.

Curtis Hamilton saw his games played go up significantly in 2012-13. This was mainly because he stayed healthy, but also because Todd Nelson (and likely the Oilers guard) found it necessary to see what he had left in the tank after a pretty rough freshman year. A full twenty games more, in fact, pushed Hamilton to only nine points. To recap, that’s twenty more games played this season compared to last, and a two point decline in offense. Not good.

Hamilton is a team player, sometimes to a fault. When the Oilers drafted him he was a huge wildcard, but with some offensive potential and a keen eye for squeezing in anywhere he was needed. Injury was an immediate concern. Two years into his pro years, and we are still saying the same things. In the games he played he struggled to find his wings deeper in the lineup.

Hamilton played with various centermen this season, and that’s interesting to note because it pulls back the curtain on Todd Nelson’s usage for the young winger. Lander, House, Martindale, VandeVelde – all played the middle of the Hamilton sandwich. Asking Curtis to score points in this role, on this Barons team, coached by Todd Nelson is just asking too much. However, even in a shutdown, closer, grinder role, he struggled mightily. I hated every second of it.

Hamilton is a really good kid. He’s smart. He’s tough. He’s prone to play a good guy role that forces you to love him. He’s got the speed. He’s got a decent skill set. He’s an interesting prospect. The greater issue, like oft-compared Pitlick, is he’s not been good enough, fast enough. Similarly, he just can’t stay healthy for long stretches to hone his craft.

In his final year of entry level contractual obligations, his point total and production will go up. Craig MacTavish will force him into spots where he’ll succeed the most. The Oilers have to give him one last hurrah just in case. Through this due diligence Curtis will have to stay healthy while taking a step forward, something he’s rarely done in his young career. Post-knee surgery in 2013, baby steps will be unacceptable. Moon bounces will be the necessary.