by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of the San Jose Barracudas.
In a 9-player, 3-team deal, it is very easy to overlook a player who was not the headliner in the transaction. Dillon Hamaliuk, a 22-year old, former 2nd round pick may be the one prospect people dismiss. The 6’3” 200 lb. Left Winger could be just what the Penguins are looking for with their lack of depth at the wing position. And it’s a position that will sorely miss the services of Jake Guentzel as he recovers from offseason ankle surgery.
Hamaliuk had a successful junior career for the Seattle Thunderbirds, which led to him being selected in the second round, 55th overall by the San Jose Sharks in 2019. He exceeded expectations in the WHL after only being drafted in the 6th round of the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft. He scored 15 goals and 39 points in 72 games as a WHL rookie in 2017-2018. He started off the following season hot, scoring 26 points in 31 games before a lower body injury ended his season. The Thunderbirds never did disclose the severity of the injury, but it did keep him out of fitness testing at the NHL Combine.
With his body frame, Hamaliuk plays more like a power forward than a player with a finesse game. He has above average skating ability and can keep up with the pace of the Pens' style. His lower body strength helps him fight through checks, and he can be a presence in front of the net. GM Kyle Dubas likely sees his potential as a valuable forechecker who pressures opponents into making mistakes.
Watching video of Dillon Hamaliuk, it is hard not to be impressed with his quick hands. He has scored several highlight reel goals at Seattle and has a great one timer to go with an accurate wrist shot. He plays well in his own end and does not shy away from the dirty work. With time, Hamaliuk could grow into a sandpaper nuisance that the Pens have missed in front of the net since the days of Patric Hornqvist.
Draft 412 sees some R.J. Umberger’s game in the way Hamaliuk plays. Umberger, a former local star from Plum, played almost 800 NHL games.
It is hard for Draft 412 not to recall another 2nd round pick the Penguins obtained in a blockbuster deal in 2012—Brian Dumoulin. With other big names involved in the deal such as Jordan Staal, Brandon Sutter, and 1st round pick Derrick Pouliot, Dumoulin was overlooked. Yet he became a huge part of the success of the Penguins and their Stanley Cup runs.
Chances are Hamaliuk will start the season at Wilkes-Barre, but he does add a nice prospect to the organization, which is in need of young talent.