Hockey News: Jeff Hamilton

Updated: March 12, 2007, 3:13 PM ET
By Darryl Dobbs | Special to ESPN.com

Like many fantasy poolies, something happened on Saturday that turned my head. Chicago Blackhawks center Jeff Hamilton tallied five points.

Who?

A five-point game isn't common in the NHL, but when an NHLer does hit that mark, he's normally either an established superstar or a future one. The only recent exceptions to this rule were Charlie Huddy of the Edmonton Oilers (back in the 1980s) and Czech disappointment Jiri Dopita of the Philadelphia Flyers back in 2002.

Although Hamilton is clearly a late bloomer, he has the tools to prove he can produce decent numbers. He was a big scorer at the college level for Yale, scoring 20-plus goals in three seasons, but not quite enough to earn a selection at the NHL entry draft. The 29-year-old continued his torrid pace in Finland and again in North America while playing for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American League.

After a decent late-season showing for the Islanders last year, the Blackhawks signed him as an unrestricted free agent with the hopes he would bring an offensive presence to the third line and chip in on the second power play unit.

Mission accomplished.

Hamilton was arguably the most impressive player in training camp and forced his way onto the roster. He currently has 33 points in 57 contests.

But things haven't all been rosy for him this season. He has been a healthy scratch for his inconsistent play on three occasions and averages less than 13 minutes per game. Not exactly the type of information you would expect from a player who notches five points in one outing, is it?

Although Hamilton accomplished the feat on Saturday despite just 14 minutes of ice time and less than two minutes on the power play, it doesn't mean he's out of the woods yet. Proceed with caution; he still has a lot to prove to coach Denis Savard.

It would not surprise me if he stumbles out of the gate next season, posts one point in 15 games and then is shipped to the minors. It also wouldn't surprise me if he turned into a solid 65 or even 70-point player. This is high risk/high reward to the extreme, which means use him for your late-round dark horse selection this summer.

Injuries, from a fantasy pool perspective: Simon Gagne strained his groin on Saturday and will miss at least two games for the Flyers. His absence will give R.J. Umberger and Scottie Upshall, two wingers who have been hot of late, more ice time. Upshall has nine points in 11 games since joining the Flyers, while Umberger has six points in his past six contests.

Farm Report: Washington Capitals prospect Chris Bourque, Ray Bourque's son, was having a miserable season for Hershey of the AHL until three weeks ago. The diminutive left winger has 13 points during an active nine-game point streak. What's holding the 21-year-old back from a spot in the NHL is his size, as well as his consistency. It also doesn't help that he plays the same position as Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Tomas Fleischmann.

Darryl Dobbs' Fantasy Pool Look appears every Monday and Wednesday only on The Hockey News.com. Want to speak with Darryl about fantasy hockey? E-mail him at dobber@dobberhockey.com.

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