Zach Hamill Signs With Capitals Looking for Fresh Start, Faces Uphill Struggle to Earn Roster Spot

Zach Hamill Signs With Capitals Looking for Fresh Start, Faces Uphill Struggle to Earn Roster SpotZach Hamill will get a chance to see if a change of scenery will help him finally get his career back on track.

Hamill, a restricted free agent whose rights were traded by Boston to Washington for Chris Bourque on May 26, signed a one-year deal with the Capitals on Wednesday.

After being taken with the eighth overall pick in the 2007 draft, Hamill, 23, never came close to living up to his potential in the Bruins organization. He played 20 games with the big club in four pro seasons, failing to register a goal and managing four assists.

Despite struggling at times in Providence, he showed some flashes in his first few call-ups. He collected an assist in his NHL debut, which actually came in Washington back in 2010. He added another helper in a three-game stint the following year, then two more in his first three games this season. Six games into his NHL career he had four points and was a plus-6. But he failed to collect another point and was a minus player in his final 13 games before being returned to Providence.

A shoulder injury ended his season in March, continuing another recurring theme for the 5-foot-11, 180-pound forward who also had his first pro season in Providence derailed by a thumb injury he tried to play through.

Hamill, a natural center, also struggled to crack a Boston lineup that was particularly deep down the middle. He was moved to the wing last year, which helped earn the November call-up that led to his longest NHL stint, but he still could not stick for good.

He won't have it much easier in Washington. Even with free agent forwards Alexander Semin, Mike Knuble and Keith Aucoin not expected to return, the Capitals have 11 regulars back up front from last year. The only one of that group on a two-way deal is Marcus Johansson, and his spot isn't likely to be in jeopardy after he finished third on the team with 46 points.

Washington also added veteran Joey Crabb, who had 11-15-26 totals with Toronto, and on Wednesday signed Wojtek Wolski to a one-year, $600,000 deal. Wolski's play has slipped in recent years, but the former Colorado first-rounder (21st overall in 2004) does have 424 NHL games and two 20-goal campaigns on his resume.

Hamill will also have to contend with fellow newcomers Ryan Potulny and Ryan Stoa, who were each signed as free agents earlier this month and both have more extensive NHL experience than Hamill. Potulny had 33-32-65 totals with Washington's AHL affiliate in Hershey last year, but has played 126 NHL games with Philadelphia, Edmonton, Chicago and Ottawa, while Stoa has logged 37 games with Colorado.

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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