While the 6th overall pick will obviously be the most important done made by the team at the draft next month, it’s important to keep in mind that the club has two other picks inside the top 30 and nine picks overall. Which means the Flames scouts have a lot more work on their hands than simply deciding between Elis Lindholm and Sean Monahan.
Trying to anticipate picks in the mid-to-late rounds is a fools errand. The field widens considerably and teams start making picks based on a couple of viewings or a passing familiarity. That said, sometimes a few interesting prospects pop up who fit an organizational need or profile. In the darkhorse series, we’ll take a look at some of these kids.
First up, the next "Johnny Gaudreau" – Taylor Cammarata.
I had never heard of John Gaudreau when the Flames called his name in the 4th round back in 2012, but I got familiar with him pretty quickly. Taylor Cammarata is a player built in almost the exact same mould: tiny (5’6", 150 pounds), a USHL graduate and an offensive whiz kid.
Like many elite prospects, Cammarata was groomed as a youngster by Shattuck St. Mary’s. In his second season there on the Midget U16 team, he scored 71 goals and 139 points in just 54 games. To put those numbers in perspective, Sidney Crosby scored 72 goals and 162 points in 57 games in the same program at the same age.
Cammarata graduated to the USHL Waterloo Blackhawks from there, which is where he has spent the last two seasons. He was an immediate impact player for the club, scoring at a better than point-per-game pace (67 in 60) as a rookie. This past season he was the team’s leading scorer with 38 goals and 93 points in just 57 games. Again, for context, Johnny Hockey scored 36 goals and 70 points in 60 games in his draft season.
The NHLE (NHL equivalence) translation factor for the USHL is about 0.25, meaning Cammarata’s NHLE is about 0.41 points-per-game, or 33 points over an 82 game season. That’s the same NHLtranslation as Calgary’s first round target Sean Monahan, and better than more than half the guys who will be picked in the top-30 this coming June. It’s an astoshingly good number.
Like Gaudreau, Cammarata’s scouting report is dominated by notes of his offensive abilities and concerns about his size. From Justin Schreiber of the Scouting Report:
Cammarata is great skater and is very quick and nimble on his feet. He has the ability to find the soft spots in the offensive zone and exploit the defensive breakdowns he causes by getting “lost in the crowd” with his small frame. Cammarata can get from anywhere in the offensive zone to any other point in the zone lightning quick and defensemen often lose track of him. His shot is a big strength. It’s unusual to see a guy with such a small frame with a booming wrist shot, but Cammarata’s got it. Vision in the offensive zone has also been a big strength with him making the right passes at the right times. I’ve had the pleasure of watching Cammarata play five times this season starting at the Fall Classic in September and he’s continuously gotten better in every viewing.
As for weaknesses in Cammarata’s game, his biggest weakness is obviously his size. 5-foot-6 is definitely not what coaches and scouts look for in a player, but there’s a guy who comes around every now and again where his skill outweighs his size. I firmly believe Cammarata is that guy. Just like Rocco Grimaldi a year ago, people have been doubting Cammarata all his playing career, but he just keeps impressing at every level he plays at. Cammarata still hasn’t really developed a solid defensive game yet either. He is very much focused on his play in the offensive zone, and it’s been paying off, but Cammarata doesn’t seem to back check all that much.
Being tiny and one dimensional is obviously an issue, but the Flames took a chance on a very similar player in Gaudreau two drafts ago and he’s now firmly considered one of the best prospects in the organization. Cammarata has better numbers at the same age, so he’s hard to ignore.
Will He Be Available?
Despite his obvious skill level and because of his size, Cammarata doesn’t show up until a little later on most draft sheets. Central Scouting ranks him as the 193rd best NA skater. Corey Pronman is much more bullish on the player, putting him at 59th overall. The NHLNumbers consensus ranking, which considered and weighted a number of draft lists, had him at 88th overall in January.
That puts Cammarata at anywhere between a late second rounder to a mid-7th rounder, depending. Given Gaudreau’s post-draft success I doubt Cammarata lasts until the final few rounds, but it’s also hard to imagine any team spending a top-60 pick on him given his primary weakness. As such, I’d speculate he’ll go somewhere in the 3rd or 4th round unless a particular scout falls in love somewhere and convinces his team to reach.
The Flames have zero picks in the second round thanks to the Cammalleri trade, but they have their own 3rd and 4th rounders which will be near the top of the rotation for each round. Of couse, they also have the option of choosing Cammarata in the first round with perhaps the Penguins pick if they like the player enough and are satisfied with swinging for the fences after their other two choices.
Of course, the organization may decide that having one long-shot tiny offensive dynamo in the organization is enough, so maybe Cammarata isn’t on their draft board at all. Still, with the player committed to play for the University of Minnesota next year, the Flames new found love for college players and their positive experience with John Gaudreau, it’s hard to believe they aren’t taking a long look at the Plymouth Minnesota native.
Recently Around the Nation Network
Cam Charron talks at length about Dave Nonis’ press conference and how the new Leafs GM might be a bit dazzled by Toronto’s notable (half) season:
While 48 games seems like a big sample, and there’s very little shuffling of playoff teams between games 48 and 82 in any regular season, the output from the Leafs did not match the input. The Leafs management team is, suffice to say, not particularly well up on the analytical side of the game like other NHL teams. It doesn’t take an advanced knowledge of Corsi to get that the Leafs won more games than they should have, and that 48 games will not show the whole picture.