Dillon Hamaliuk has been working to find his place in the San Jose Sharks organization. He has spent the season in and out of the San Jose Barracuda line-up and has yet to join the big club for a game.
In truth, Hamaliuk was caught off-guard when the Sharks called his name in the second round of the 2019 NHL Draft.
“I didn’t end up going to the draft because I didn’t know I was going to go as high as I did. I was injured that season,” he recalled. “I was just at home on the couch when they called my name, and that was one of the coolest experiences of my life.”
While he says last year’s shortened season may have helped some people learn to adapt to adversity mentally, Hamaliuk notes that he had gone through difficulties every season, such as that draft season when he spent half of the season with a knee injury while with the Seattle Thunderbirds.
“It would have been nice to get a full season in, but you just have to take it like it is and take positives out of it,” he noted. “I was able to spend more time with my family and just try my hardest to prepare for this season.”
It’s been a gift and a curse being drafted so high by the San Jose Sharks.
“Being a second-rounder definitely adds a little bit of additional pressure,” the 6-foot-3 winger acknowledged, “and I’ve had to adapt to that.”
Hamaliuk made sure to communicate that he feels he has something to prove. Specifically, that the play he has shown throughout his time with the Barracuda this season is not all he has to offer.
“I think I’ve been slowly getting better,” he said, “but I have to step it up in this last mile stretch.”
Hamaliuk is only in the first year of his three-year ELC, so he has time to work on things.
As for what he has been working on, there is not one specific area.
“A lot of different parts, it’s a lot of rounding my game. That’s a day-to-day thing that me and the coaching staff have been working on. We’re trying to transfer over what I did in the WHL to the American League,” he shared. “It’s been a bit of a challenge, but I’ve got time to work on my craft still. I have to prove to the coaching staff and everybody that I can make the jump up to the NHL, but it’s still a work in progress.”
Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer had this to say: “He’s got to produce a little bit. He’s been in and out of the lineup, it’s not like he hasn’t played, but when he gets in there, he has to grab a job.”
Sommer also noted that Hamaliuk has just one goal this season. To this point, he has just three points through 25 games.
The bench boss added: “[He has to] make more plays with the puck. Play to his size. Continue to work on his skill-set.
“[He’s got] good straightaway speed and can be a physical presence.”
Being in and out of the lineup is a new experience for Hamaliuk, who has previously only spent time out of the line-up in juniors due to injury.
“It’s hard to get into a rhythm, but when you do get put in the lineup, well, you really have to show what you’ve got,” he said, seemingly echoing what Sommer wants to see from him.
From the outside looking in, it seems that not consistently being in the lineup would make it challenging to be at your best.
“Personally, I think so, but it shouldn’t really matter. You should just be able to play,” said Hamaliuk, noting that he is getting used to it now. “You get a couple of practices to see how each other play, so you get a little bit of chemistry, but nothing like you get when you play with somebody for months, and you know exactly where they’re going to be on the ice.”
COVID Road Trip
Over Christmas, Dillon Hamaliuk tested positive while on the road with the team in Colorado. It just so happened that both Jasper Weatherby and Nick Cicek also tested positive on the same trip, and the three made the drive from Loveland, CO, back to San Jose.
In an interview with The Athletic, Weatherby mentioned that Cicek had the best playlist. So of course, SJHN had to find out how Hamaliuk felt about that assessment of playlists.
“I agree,” he affirmed. “He had a little bit of country and a little bit of hip hop and stuff. It made it a little bit more exciting on that journey.”
However, the best part of the road trip for Hamaliuk was not the music, even though the two-day, 18-hour trip was not chockful of adventure.
“It was probably just the scenery,” he said. “There wasn’t much else we could do. We had COVID.”
The trip took him back to his WHL days a bit, though, especially with the distance: “That’s basically going from Seattle all the way to Prince Albert, SK. One of those trips.”
On that note, Hamaliuk says he prefers the travel in the AHL.
“In the WHL, we had bus trips that were hours long. I think the only places we bus to now are Bakersfield and Stockton,” he said. “Everywhere else, we fly, so it’s not bad at all.”
Hamaliuk also mentioned how nice it is that the equipment staff pack everything and make sure it all makes it to their destination. In the WHL, the players learn to load the busses, giving Hamaliuk a healthy appreciation for those who do it for the team now.
Dillon Hamaliuk, on his perfect pizza:
“I would say my favorite pizza is chicken bacon ranch pizza, but I’ve also had one from somewhere that was a smoky maple bacon one. That was the best pizza I’ve ever had. So a base of ranch with chicken, cheese, smoky maple bacon, and what else do we put on there? Pineapple.”
He has yet to decide on his perfect pregame meal, saying he’s waiting for what he feels is his perfect game, and he’ll just go with what he had that day.
In a movie:
If he could pick an actor to play him in a movie, he’d want Leonardo DiCaprio.
“He’s an unreal actor.”
What kind of movie would it be?
“It would be a documentary about my life and what challenges I’ve had to go through to, like, get to where I am. I think those are the best movies.”
His favorite activity off the ice? Golf, of course, but his favorite club to use?
“Probably my driving iron. I can’t really hit my driver at all, it’s usually a slice, so it’s my driving iron.”
Locker room music:
Who should be playing it?
“Probably Grewsy [Jake McGrew] or [Nick] Cicek. Those are two guys that have good music. Before practice, they’ll have some country and stuff. Game days, it’s more rap and hip hop stuff.”
Who shouldn’t be allowed to DJ?
He had a quick answer for that one, but why?
“I don’t even know. Just half the music he plays, I have no idea what it is.”
Final message for the fans:
“Just be loud. We thank you guys for all the support. You guys are awesome, just keep being loud. We love it.”
Throughout five games from Feb. 11-23, the Barracuda had a 1-4 record, 15-28-1 overall.
Facing the San Diego Gulls on Feb. 11, the Barracuda saw goals from Evan Weinger and Jayden Halbgewachs as they fell 4-2.
Finishing their season series against San Diego on Feb. 16, the San Jose Sharks’ AHL affiliate tallied a lone goal from Joachim Blichfeld on the powerplay. They finished the series 1-7 as they fell 5-1 in the finale.
Feb. 20 saw the Barracuda pick up their first win in eight games as they downed the Texas Stars 7-6 in the shootout. Goals came from Cole Moberg, Mark Alt, Artemi Kniazev, Santeri Hatakka, Kyle Topping, and John Leonard. Blichfeld delivered the final strike, scoring the lone shootout goal for either team.
Just one day later, on Feb. 21, Nick Merkley was the lone goal scorer for San Jose as the team lost 4-1 to Texas.
Most recently, the Barracuda dropped another game to the Bakersfield Condors, finishing 6-3. Two goals from Halbgewachs and one from Merkley were the highlights of the game for the home team.
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