New Jersey Devils: Dougie Hamilton Makes His Presence Felt With Overtime Winner

New Jersey Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton (7): Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton (7): Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Jersey Devils really missed Dougie Hamilton when he was out of the lineup after a deflected shot ended up forcing him to miss more than a month. The Devils $9 million defenseman was supposed to fix their issue trying to find a true “top defenseman”. For the most part, the Devils are happy with the return after the first season, but their record is still very bad. They missed Hamilton when he was out, but they’ve used him in a strange way since his return.

He hasn’t been placed on the top power-play unit, which seems like a no brainer. One of the main reasons the Devils brought him in was to help the team’s struggling power play. Prior to him being out, the Devils didn’t have the best power play, but that seemed to be more of a product of the system over the players. It called for a lot of standing around. The Devils should be moving. That’s beyond the point. The Devils have Hamilton back full time, and eventually he will prove himself as the best option on all units.

He started to prove that in overtime on Sunday after against the St. Louis Blues. Hamilton led the team with 17 minutes at 5v5, mostly because Damon Severson had to play so many minutes on special teams. The Devils put him back together with Ryan Graves after a few games with Jonas Siegenthaler. It still feels like the best pairing for the overall quality of the defense (at least to me).

We don’t have to get into the numbers for this past game because it would be too hard to follow. Just know at 5v5 he had a great overall game despite being on the ice for three high-danger chances against. All of the other numbers showed he deserved at least one goal, and he got it at the very end.

The was a wild goal. Hamilton gets the puck from Pavel Zacha and sneaks past Robert Thomas. He had time to make a decision, and he put it in the right place. Of course, it all started with a play by Jack Hughes.

Hamilton is just one of the best offensive defensemen in the league. Only nine defensemen have more goals than him, and Hamilton has only played 36 games this season. This overtime goal makes nine goals on the season.

It’s not like the Devils defenseman is getting lucky. According to Money Puck, he came into today’s matchup with 8.0 expected goals and eight actual goals. He was already the eighth-best defenseman in the stat, and everyone else has at least 10 more games than him. Hamilton has been as advertised this season.

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The Devils are trying to figure some things out, and maybe they want to put Damon Severson in a position to succeed in case he truly is available. However, Hamilton is the top defenseman on this team. His offense is better than anything the Devils can put out there, and that is saying something on a team with Ty Smith and P.K. Subban. He needs to play more, and he should be the top minutes getter on a nightly basis. His play on Sunday afternoon showed what can happen when he’s given space and time. He just needs the opportunity.