I referenced Brock of OHL Prospects in my first post on the Cameron signing. I decided to contact Otten recently for a more in depth perspective on the newest Calgary Flame. Brock was kind enough to oblige.
1.) You have written favorably about Cameron on OHL Prospects. How often have you seen him play the last few years?
I’m pretty familiar with Cameron. Over the past three years, I’d harbour to say I’ve seen him live at least a dozen times, and televised numerous more.
It’s not just his size. 5’10 isn’t really THAT undersized any more. There are numerous players finding success in the NHL at 5’10 and 5’11. It’s the type of game he excels at combined with his size. You don’t see too many 5’10 goal scoring forwards in the NHL who score most of their goals right around the crease area. Generally the job of crease crasher is reserved for those 6’3, 200lbs forwards. As Pierre McGuire would put it, "big body presence." Cameron isn’t an elite puck handler and while he’s a hard worker, he’s not necessarily the type of player who’s going to go out there and create his own offensive opportunities. He’s an opportunist…and a good one at that. But at 5’10, are the opportunities harder to come by?
On top of that, I think there were also a lot of concerns over his play in previous OHL playoffs. He’s always been a tremendous goal scorer but in previous years he was often invisible in the playoffs for Belleville. Obviously you can make the parallels about open space around the net becoming harder to come by in the playoffs and Cameron’s size. But he’s been very good for Barrie in this year’s playoffs and in a way has silenced some critics.
The former. Otherwise he would have been picked up last year and not this year. He’s got his work cut out for him. Like I said, it’s tough for players under six feet to play the role he does at the professional level. He’s going to need to get stronger and more agile to help him survive. Adding more sandpaper to his game would really help too. He’s a bit of an agitator and he’s not afraid to get his nose dirty, but adding a more physical element to his game could really help him find his niche.
I remember Dawes from his time with the Canadian World Junior team and I personally don’t see the comparison, outside of the two being undersized goal scorers who aren’t afraid to hang out near the crease. But Cameron is a pretty complete player. He’s excellent along the boards and on the forecheck. He may not be tall, but he has excellent lower body strength which allows him to cycle the effectively. He’s also already a committed defensive player, although I wouldn’t call him elite in the area. I also remember Dawes having more skill with the puck than Cameron, and being more creative.
But then again, I’m not really a huge fan of comparisons in most cases. In some ways, I think the lack of comparison for a guy like Cameron speaks volumes as to the difficulty those who play his style, at his size, have at the NHL level. If I’m reaching, I would say a guy like Mark Parrish (at least offensively) in his NHL prime. Not the biggest, but a quality NHL shot, a more straight up and down player. But Parrish was also a very one dimensional player so in a lot of ways, that comparison falls short too.
Absolutely. I think he has NHL downside too…if that makes sense. What I mean is that if Cameron can get strong enough to win battles down low, he has the skill and intelligence to score goals in the NHL. He could easily develop into a top six NHL winger, a complimentary scorer on a line where he’s expected to do the dirty work. But he could also develop down a different path. He’s got good speed and he’s a solid all around player. There’s the chance that if his goal scoring ability doesn’t translate, he could still be a valuable depth player/energy guy who can chip in offensively.
It was definitely a good signing by Calgary. I know he generated interest last offseason and was at the Phoenix Coyotes training camp, but wasn’t offered a contract. Obviously there were other teams looking at him. My guess is that in their viewings of T.J. Brodie, the Flames scouting staff saw enough potential in Cameron to give him that contract, or knew that if they had waited until giving him a tryout in September, that he’d already be snatched up by another club.
However, don’t expect this signing to pay off immediately. I could see him having trouble to start and he may even need some time at the ECHL level as he adjusts to the speed and strength of the professional game. Three years from now, when that contract runs out, things could definitely look better.
Thanks again go to Brock for providing such great answers.