He's faced a difficult task of living up to expectations as the eighth overall pick of the 2007 draft. He hasn't put up huge numbers in Providence or performed well enough in training camps long to make a push to open the season with the big club.
But when he's been given the chance to play at the NHL level, Hamill has consistently produced results. With injuries leaving the Bruins shorthanded up front Tuesday night against Los Angeles, Hamill delivered again.
He set up Boston's first goal 6:32 into the opening period with a perfect pass in front to Rich Peverley. That would be the only goal Boston needed, as the Bruins went on to post a 3-0 victory.
"The one thing is when we say he is a first-round pick, he's a pretty skilled player," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "He showed that right off the bat. That was a play that NHL players make. He had a good head's up and right on the tape for an easy tap-in for Pevs. He's done that a few times for us. He's been a good player. I was happy with him the first time he came up and certainly happy with him tonight. He's had to play a position where he's played most of his career, but not this year. So I thought he adjusted well. He was really good in our own end as far as supporting and battling. I was really pleased with his game."
Hamill's recall on Monday was the second time he's been summoned to the big club this season. He now has two assists and is a plus-4 in three games. Counting brief stints in the previous two seasons, Hamill has four assists and is a plus-6 in seven games with Boston.
"Obviously experience is something you only gain by going through it," Hamill said. "I've gained a lot of experience and I feel like I've gotten better every time I've come up here, but I want to keep getting better."
Hamill is a natural center, but this year he has been moved to wing in Providence and the shift has paid off big dividends. He had 7-7-14 totals in 25 games in Providence, and played well as the third-line right wing in his first recall to Boston last month.
But on Tuesday, the Bruins needed a fourth-line center with Gregory Campbell sidelined with a fractured foot, and Hamill slid easily back into his old position.
"It was good," Hamill said. "For my sake I think it was good to show them I'm versatile and if they need me I can play any position.
"It's a different game," Hamill added of being back in the middle. "You're kind of all over the ice and you see the play a little bit more, but I'm happy to play both."
The Bruins are happy to have that kind of versatility to call upon as well.
"He's been playing wing this year because we feel he's got a better chance of cracking our lineup down the road playing on the wing and we're pretty deep at center," Julien said. "But that's something that he's adjusted well to, and when he came up as a winger it certainly didn't take away from his playmaking abilities. We needed a centerman and from what I was told he was the best candidate to come in here and help us out. They obviously made the right choice because he made a great pass on that goal and that's something we haven't done in a long time is score the first goal. He allowed us to play with the lead tonight."
Hamill almost added a goal of his own later in the first, but opted for a pass to linemate Shawn Thornton instead. It may have been one pass too many, but Thornton did draw a tripping call on defenseman Slava Voynov on the play.
"Piesy [Daniel Paille] made a real good play," Hamill said. "We were going on a line rush, Thornton dropped it to me. I was kind of going to the middle and I was a little farther out, that's why I didn't try to shoot. Thorty gave it to me and I gave it back to him and they tripped him and drew a penalty, so it worked out."
Hamill may have had a little pressure to give up the puck to his veteran linemate.
"I asked him if I should have shot it and he said, 'No, no, pass me the puck,'" Hamill said of Thornton, before getting more serious about his new linemates. "These guys are easy to play with. If he's open I'm hopefully going to find him. He's got a pretty good shot."
Now Hamill hopes he'll get a good shot at sticking around a little longer on this recall.
"Obviously being a competitive person going down is always tough," Hamill said. "But when you come up here you want to be ready and you want to make the most of your opportunities. I've just been looking forward since Day 1, just going forward and doing my thing, getting better every day and waiting for my opportunity and trying to make the most of it."
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