Hamill ready for next step

After staying on the ice for some extra work with the coaching staff and other players, center Zach Hamill, called up Thursday by the Boston Bruins from AHL affiliate Providence, addressed the media with a look of excitement and eagerness. Hamill will play his second NHL game Saturday afternoon when the Bruins face the San Jose Sharks.

“It’s nice,” said Hamill who played in the 2009-10 regular-season finale at Washington and earned an assist. “It’s definitely something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time and definitely nice. This is where I wanted to be at the start of [the season], and we’re in February now. So, definitely it was a slow start … but it’s all right now.”

Hamill thinks the game against the Capitals last season and increased playing time has him ready for the next step, and he’s hoping to show that with this call-up.

“I think just experience,” Hamill said of what he took his NHL playing time. “I played quite a few games this preseason, and you don’t really know anything until you play, and that game [last April] gives me confidence going into my next game.”

Bruins coach Claude Julien likes Hamill’s abilities and thinks he’s become stronger on the puck.

“He’s a good play-maker,” Julien said of Hamill, who leads the Providence Bruins in assists with 25 and is second in scoring with 28 points. “He makes great passes; he sees the ice well and, from what I’m told, he’s also shooting more and creating situations. He’s not a real heavy guy but he’s playing a lot stronger, and that comes with experience at the pro level.”

When asked about the timing of Hamill’s call-up, general manager Peter Chiarelli pointed to a gradual rise in the 22-year-old pivot’s play.

“There’s been a long period of time -- five or six weeks -- where he’s shown a heightening of his play,” Chiarelli said. “He’s competing more, he’s stronger and it’s a good time to have a look at him.”