dougie hamiltonEditor’s note: NESN.com will preview every NHL-level Bruins player over the next few weeks, leading to the Oct. 8 season opener. Click here for the full schedule and to read other player profiles.

Dougie Hamilton had an up-and-down 2013-14 campaign.

An injury suffered in December forced him to miss a chunk of games, but he performed at a high level in the final few months of the regular season before being one of the Bruins’ best players in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs — seven points in 12 games.

Hamilton is entering his third season with Boston, and at just 21 years old, the sky is the limit for the former first-round draft pick.

Player Vitals
Age: 21
Position: Defenseman
2013-14 Stats: 7 goals, 18 assists, 25 points in 64 games
Contract: Expires after 2014-15 season, with an $894,167 million salary-cap hit

What He Will Bring The Team
Hamilton is a fantastic offensive player. He creates scoring chances with his playmaking skills, aggressively puts pucks on net, helps the transition game with quick, accurate passes out of the defensive zone, and quarterbacks a power play better than anyone on the B’s blue line. His 56.29 Corsi-for percentage shows that he was a quality puck-possession player, too.

Hamilton’s defensive game also improved last season. He was better positioned, used his size to play a more physical game, blocked shots and played well against opponents’ best forwards (third-best Quality of Competition rating among B’s D-men) alongside captain Zdeno Chara on the first pairing.

“We’ve been looking for a guy like him for a long time,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said on Sept. 27. “A guy that can move the puck, a guy who can skate the puck up the ice. Not only that, he’s got size. It’s a real luxury to have a big defenseman with that much mobility and that much vision. He makes great plays, good heads-up plays, and he’s a great asset on offense, and on defense, he continues to improve and get bigger and stronger. He’s turning into a really good overall defenseman.”

Weakness That Must Be Improved
Consistency isn’t a huge weakness for Hamilton, but it’s something that certainly can be improved. He got off to a slow start last season with six points in his first 24 games, a stretch that included an 11-game scoreless drought from Nov. 9 through Nov. 29. The young D-man also was scoreless in his final seven games of the regular season.

Hamilton is more likely to avoid a slow start to 2014-15 because he now has two years of NHL experience and came into training camp in fantastic shape.

Expected Role For 2014-15
Hamilton likely will be on the top pairing next to Chara and play the point on the first power-play unit. We should expect a solid increase in scoring production from the young defenseman if he doesn’t suffer any injuries, but the real improvement in his game will come defensively. Hamilton has the potential to become a legitimate star this season, and the Toronto native has plenty of motivation to play at a high level because he’s eligible for restricted free agency next summer.

Projected 2014-15 Stats: 11 goals, 30 assists in 81 games

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Photo via Jean-Yves Ahern/USA TODAY Sports Images