Belfast Giants add scoring winger Curtis Hamilton to 2019/20 roster
The Belfast Giants have made a huge splash as they edge closer to completing their roster by bringing in free-scoring winger Curtis Hamilton for the 2019/20 season.
The 27-year-old dual US-Canada national is coming off an 18-goal season with the Graz 99ers of the EBEL, where he also added 25 assists for 43 points in 64 contests for the Austrian side.
Hamilton looks set to provide some elite primary scoring to the Giants' line-up as top-six forward, with his ability to play both left and right wing a major boost.
A former second-round draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers in 2010, the Washington-born forward was a youth star having earned a name for himself as a WHL stand-out with the Saskatoon Blades, scoring 67 goals and 173 points in four seasons with the team.
His performances with the Blades saw him named to the Canadian roster for the World Junior Championships in 2011 where he helped them to a Silver Medal, finishing runners-up to a Russian side featuring names such as Artemi Panarin, Yevgeni Kutznetsov and Dmitri Orlov.
However, the 6'2" two-way forward only ever suited up for one game in the NHL with the Oilers - against the San Jose Sharks in April 2015 - due to persistent injuries, and after failing to secure an NHL contract that summer, he opted to move to Europe.
In his time in North America, Hamilton amassed 30 goals and 68 points in 208 AHL contests for the Oklahoma City Barons, but it was once he moved abroad his scoring touch became apparent.
After a 14-goal, 33-point season with Czech side HC Sparta Praha, in which they lost in the play-off final but which he led the league in +/- scoring, Hamilton made the jump up to the Finnish Liiga with SaiPa where he backed it up with 14 goals and 27 points in his debut season.
Following two seasons in Finland, split across SaiPa and Tappara and finishing with 18 goals and 36 points in 66 games, Hamilton moved to Graz last season where he excelled, finishing seventh in team scoring.
Now he makes the switch to Belfast where he will be relied upon to bring that scoring ability to a team looking to defend their Elite League, Challenge Cup and Erhardt Conference titles, as well as turn some heads in the Champions Hockey League.
The 27-year-old projects to go straight onto the top line, likely alongside Jordan Smotherman and Ben Lake, allowing Bobby Farnham to drop down onto the second line where he will be more suited to providing secondary scoring alongside Brian Ward.
"The more Adam Keefe spoke with me over the summer, the more he sold Belfast to me - the hockey program, the city and by the end of it it was an easy decision for me," said Hamilton.
"I play both wings, love to score, check and play good defence - I want to do what it takes to win. Playing Champions League is an added bonus for me."
The Giants are believed to have two signings still to announce before the season begins, with the side still short of a British player and an import to be confirmed.
Belfast Telegraph Digital