Flames Darkhorse Targets: Taylor Cammarata

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.

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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.

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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.

Scouting Reports

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.

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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.

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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.


  • Colin.S

    3rd or 4th round pick, sure why not, there is no problem every couple years picking this type of player, small, but offensively gifted. Match him up with some bigger players and see what happens.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Agreed. But not in the first round. If they want to swing for the fences with one of the two later firsts, they should use the St Louis pick on Petan.

      • Colin.S

        Can’t use a first on a guy that’s gonna take at least 4 years or more to develop to a position to be able to play in the NHL.

        6th overall on Lindholm or Monohan.
        The Pens pick on Petan
        The Blues pick on Best Forward Available.
        And then our third rounder on this Cammarata pick.
        The rest on D.

        • Parallex

          If I had the choice I’d go with 6th overall on Barkov (If he falls), Lindholm, or Monahan (In that order) then two of Mantha/Rychel/Morin with the two later 1st rounders, Cammarata in the third, Ismael-Diaby in the 4th, Krupic in the 5th round, Spenser Jensen in the 6th, Andrew Copp & Mark Yanis in the 7th round.

          I suppose if we want to do a solid for the Gaudreau family we could make a throw-away 7th round pick on Matt.

  • Colin.S

    It astonishes me how little exposure this guy gets, especially given the success of Gaudreau.

    Cammarata also plays center, I believe…

    It seems like in each draft, the scouts are willing to overlook size in exactly one player, and this player is agreed upon by all of them. This year it’s Petan, last year it was Kevin Roy, the year before Grimaldi…

  • Parallex

    Yeah, this guy has 3rd or 4th round pick written all over him.

    I think picking him in one of those two rounds is a good idea. You just can’t ignore numbers like that and given how good Gaudreau looks you have to figure that they’d be willing to go to that well again in the middle rounds.

    I doubt the Flames use one of their first on him (if they gamble on a small player that early it’d have to be Petan). But this guy looks like a solid home-run swing in the rounds that aren’t expected to produce NHL’ers.

  • Colin.S

    Wasn’t Gaudreau a bigger than that in his draft year? I could definitely be wrong though. Definitely worth our 3rd round pick. I say we use one of our later fiesta to trade down and pick up two seconds.

  • Double Dion

    He’s the guy I’d like to take with our 3rd round pick. I’m not sure he’ll be there, but if he is, we should take him. I haven’t seen him play, but I’ve read he is faster than Gaudreau with less hockey IQ. I do think this draft is too deep to spend one of our 1st’s on him though. I’d have him somewhere between 45-60 on my board based on exactly zero viewings…haha.

  • Double Dion

    We should trade Cammalleri along with our St.Louis first rounder to Nashville for their first, becuase Nashville could be a higher up in the standing if they could get more goal scoring and a better season out of Pekka Rinne. Cammalleri could help them with the offence they need now, plus he could also help mentor a young Filip Forsberg. Then with their St. Louis they could get a good d-man to help fill the void left by Suter. Then any other improvements could be made by FA signings in the off-season. So then we could draft Barkov and maybe(if not chosen by Carolina) pick Valeri Nichushkin. Turning a future first line into. Baertschi,Barkov,Nichushkin. Or draft Monahan and put either barkov or Monahan on C and the other could play RW. 😀

    • Double Dion

      In all honesty, I doubt even our 1st (6th overall) and Cammalleri would get us the Nashville pick. I think you’d be talking about one of Backlund, Brodie or Bartschi going the other way with our pick to move up there. Or sending our pick and the St. Louis pick. I like Barkov a lot too, I’d actually take him 2nd overall. I just disagree on the price we’d have to pay. I don’t think it would be multiple good young assets like Kent does, but I think it would take one of those pieces along with our 1st.

  • TheRealPoc

    Flames official Facebook feed released a story on him today, about winning the USHL Player of the Year. Wasn’t really aware of the kid until then.

    Watch us pick him in the 3rd round. We just love tipping our hand, apparently.

    • Prairie Chicken by-the-Sea

      There was a story on Jordan Subban on the Flames website the other day as well. It seems strange that they are advertizing their targets… unless it’s just a stock nhl draft article and means nothing. I doubt that though.

  • Derzie

    Of the guys in the top 100 who can play center, I would target (in order): Nate MacKinnon,
    Sean Monahan,
    Max Domi,
    Hunter Shinkaruk,
    Frederik Gauthier,
    Morgan Klimchuk,
    Ryan Hartman,
    Nicolas Petan,
    Ryan Fitzgerald,
    Connor Hurley,
    Marc-Oliver Roy,
    Taylor Cammarata,
    William Carrier.

  • TheRealPoc

    I think that we have to take this kid at #67.
    Small or not, Gaudreau in the organization or not, you have to be looking for players that have special qualities that make them very skilled.
    Cammarata is four years away and will bring an infusion of skill into the organization. For a third round pick that is an excellent return.

    Had been wondering if we use the third round pick or the fourth round pick on Cammarata. Now I think that it has to be #67 unless we can pull off this deal and look at drafting him at #57.

    Possibility for a trade with the Canadiens

    #21 and #29 (assuming Hawks beat Penguins)
    for #24, #34, #36, #57.
    Extra two picks.

    #6 – Lindholm / Monahan
    #24 – Zykov / Mantha
    #34 – Mueller / Morin
    #36 – Gauthier / Petan
    #57 – De La Rose / Cammarata
    #67 – Lodge / Roy / Heatherington

    • T&A4Flames

      I don’t mind that trade proposal with MTL. However, I would rather look at acquiring a salary dump like Kaberle for 1yr and only give up 1 of those 1st rounders. However, I think I might do that depending on what’s on the board at #21

      Typically, I think, at that stage of the draft more darts may be better.

    • SmellOfVictory

      I doubt they’d get all four of those in return, but if Montreal is really into someone higher up, I can definitely see 21 or 29 being moved for a pair of those other picks.

  • T&A4Flames

    Not to rain on the parade, but people talk about JohnnyG like he has already attained greatness. I’d argue his college performance has less than zero to do with NHL success. NHLE #s don’t mean much when you from playing 6’2″ d men to 6’9″ Chara.

    Not saying he may not pan out, I truly hope he does. But drafting more players like him because of how well he has worked out is premature and wreckless.

    That said, as others have pointed out, as long as its later (3rd or 4th round) who cares. Those picks are spins on the wheel anyway.

    PS – also never draft a guy in pink laces.

  • Prairie Chicken by-the-Sea

    No higher than the 3rd round, but I can see a team reaching in the 2nd, especially if they have two 2nds.

    Calgary should just keep their 1st round picks. Feaster scares me most when he starts to get creative.

    There’s lots of players with size, high IQ, and skill in the first round so if the scouts are doing their jobs the Flames should be able to nail all 3 picks IMO. Near the end of the 1st and after the 1st, the talent drops considerably, so I would NOt trade down.

    Besides, look at the 2003 draft. Pretty sure Dallas wished they had kept that 28th overall pick that Anaheim used to take Corey Perry instead of the pair of 2nd rounders they got in return.

  • T&A4Flames

    if i could pick them which i cant lol id go for (1rd) monahan, (1rd) rychel, (1rd)compher, (3rd)j suban, (4th)cammaratta, they rest dont know feaster can suprise us.

  • The Last Big Bear

    How many players his size have ever been better than replacement-level in the NHL? If you want him to be an impact player, he’ll need to be probably in the all-time top 10 among players his size. Youre not even gambling at that point, you’re just doing something silly, and praying for a miracle.

    A kid like Mark Jankowski, who is going to be huge, and has loads of skill, but is unproven, that’s swinging for the fences. That’s a risky pick that could pay off big by being a top player with the whole package.

    Picking a kid who is 5’6″ is not swinging for the fences, it’s more like bunting and hoping the back catcher somehow trips and breaks an ankle, thus allowing you a miraculous once in a lifetime infield homer, because that happened with a guy in Calgary this one time in 1987.

    And I don’t mean to be the fun police, but Johnny Gaudreau has yet to even play a single NHL game, much less establish himself as an impact player in the big show. Yeah, I know he almost won the Hobey Baker award, but even of the guys who DO win it, a solid majority of them never become NHL impact players. Many Flames fans started counting this chicken about 3 years before its even due to hatch.

  • Franko J

    Can’t measure heart.

    Like Gaudreau he will require a big winger to clear space in the offensive zone to create chances. Like any player under 6ft playing in the NHL skating has be their greatest asset. I think it easier to coach a player the defensive side of the game. The hardest part is to find players who can produce in the offensive zone. I don’t know the exact size differential between Gallagher and Cammarata, but for my money if Cammarata in a few years can bring the same grit/skill ratio Gallagher has shown with the Canadiens, he would be a steal in the draft.

    Again, how badly is this kid willing to make to the next level? Most likely he is player the Red Wings or Predators will target because he falls into their approach of developing prospects. If the Flames have a chance to pick him I say go for it.

  • SmellOfVictory

    There are a lot of smaller guys starting to make an impact in the NHL the last few years. Brendan Gallagher, Corey Conacher, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, David Desharnais, Cam Atkinson, to name a few. And that’s just off the top of my head.

    • Franko J

      Very true, and most of those guys were depth picks. Hell, I think Gallagher was drafted with a 5th rounder.

      Size isn’t as big an issue in today’s NHL as it was during the dead puck era. Are there elite NHLers who are big guys. Sure, Kopitar, Malkin, and Thornton come to mind. But there are plenty of guys who are small and are good NHLers. Patrick Kane isn’t very big. Brian Gionta is just 5’7. Brad Marchand is 5’9. Danny Briere is 5’9 aswell. The list goes on and on.

      Bottomline is, if a guy can skate and has got some skill, he can. His fitness and strength level also has to be quite good.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Fifth round pick option. Jesse Lees.

    Local kid played bantam and midget with the Northstars. Pretty good offensive numbers for a young guy on the Kelowna Rockets.



    “Lees is one of the youngest players in the draft (Sept. 14 birthdate), and was buried on Kelowna’s deep blue-line depth chart early on. But his terrific puck skills and offensive instincts have forced him up that chart, and now he’s even crashing the power play unit and producing points regularly.”