In just 17 years of existence, the Everett Silvertips produced their fair share of stars in the WHL. Of course, a standout in junior hockey does not always translate to the same caliber player at the professional level. Of Everett alumni, few individuals put together a better resume than Zach Hamill. During his stint with the Silvertips, there was not a more consistently productive player. Unfortunately, his pro hockey career is a slightly different story.
Just a glance at franchise numbers of former Silvertips and it is easy to notice Hamill’s name somewhere near the top in most categories. He is second in points, assists, and assists per season. Additionally, he ranks seventh in goals and third in points per season. On top of the numbers, Hamill is also a former two-time representative in the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge, First Team All-Star, and Bobby Clarke Trophy Winner.
Although the personal accolades are apparent, a player’s real success pairs with the accomplishments of his team. For Hamill, Everett never missed the playoffs during his tenure. He played in just four regular-season games in 2003-04, but the third overall Bantam pick took to the ice for 20 postseason games during the run that got the Silvertips to the WHL Final. The next year, the team made it to the conference semifinal and then the Western Conference Final the year after. In Hamill’s final two seasons, Everett lost in the conference semifinal and quarterfinal respectively.
Looking at his body of work in the WHL, Hamill had the makings of a productive player at the next level.
The professional journey of Zach Hamill
The Boston Bruins selected Hamill with the eighth overall pick back in 2007. The 2007 NHL Entry Draft is best known for Patrick Kane going first overall, followed by James van Riemsdyk. However, those two gentlemen are far from the only ones that went on to have successful NHL careers. Of the first ten picks, six have produced over 400 points. Seven of them have over 500 games played. Hamill, on the other hand, played in just 20 games over a three-season span, posting only four assists.
To state that Hamill’s expectations at the NHL level fell incredibly short would fall into the category of an understatement. He never remained with the big club long enough to contribute much of anything. Hamill received a Stanley Cup ring in 2011 after being recalled for the Bruins’ postseason run that year. Unfortunately, he did not play, eliminating any chance of actually having his name on Lord Stanley’s Cup. His longest season with the Bruins came in 2011-12, when he played in 16 games. After that, it became all AHL.
Hamill started the 2012-13 campaign with the Hershey Bears. However, by the time the season concluded, he had played for two other squads, including the San Antonio Rampage and Milwaukee Admirals. The following year, Hamill joined the Utica Comets but failed to produce to their liking. By December 2013, he and the Canucks organization mutually agreed to part ways, unknowingly putting an end to his North American hockey career. In 349 AHL contests, the former first-round pick generated 66 goals and 126 assists.
When Hamill’s hockey career shifted to Europe, it became challenging to keep track of where he was playing. In five seasons, he laced his skates in seven separate countries, including Russia, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, and the Czech Republic. From the start of 2014 to the end of the 2017-18 hockey season, Hamill played no more than 58 games with one team or league.
Most recently, Hamill played with EC Bad Nauheim of the DEL2 league. In two consecutive years with the club, Hamill is producing over a point per game. Finally remaining with one organization for more than a brief stint, he is playing his best hockey since his WHL years.
Making sense of it all
Hamill’s time in the WHL remains the high point of his hockey career. Although it didn’t pan out, he dedicated the necessary time and effort to earn the eighth overall selection in 2007. Now, some would simply label him a “bust” and call it a day. Still, there is more to this story than that.
Did Zach Hamill come close to the expectations bestowed upon a top-ten pick? No, he did not. How about those of a first-rounder? That’s a negative as well. Of course, he is not the only highly-touted junior talent to not reach his potential at the next level.
When truly dissecting Hamill’s hockey journey, one cannot ignore the inconsistencies he faced. Think about it for a second. For the most part, we all perform our best in a sturdy and consistent environment. Whether his fault or not, Hamill never really had that once he reached the professional ranks. Although it’s an obstacle many players face, there is an extra layer of difficulty present when the foundation you are on is shaky.
Regardless of the player he became, Zach Hamill will always hold a special place in the hearts of Silvertips fans. In Everett’s WHL history, Hamill remains one of the most storied members of the organization.