In the lead up to the draft, we’ve talked a lot about potential forward prospects. It makes sense: not only do forwards make up the bulk of a team’s roster, but high-impact forwards are the number one area of concern right now regarding the Flames’ prospect pool. There are only so many goalies one can have in the system at any time, and after the 2015 draft, defence doesn’t seem as dire anymore.
But there will still be good defencemen available. With that in mind, let’s turn to Cam Dineen: a 5’11, 182 lb. defenceman who was second to only Alexander Nylander in OHL scoring. He was originally committed to Yale, but went to the Noth Bay Battalion because he felt it would be better for his development – and so far, it certainly seems to be paying off, as his defence improved under Head Coach Stan Butler, while his natural smarts blossomed.
Monday, Dineen didn’t get any points and yet his impact was indelible. He hustled back for a dump-in and drew a cross-checking penalty on Montreal Canadiens draft pick Jeremiah Addison that set up the game’s first goal. There he was again, joining the rush to become a decoy and open a passing lane to facilitate captain Mike Amadio’s game-winning goal. And making smart passes that initiated dangerous rushes and forced Ottawa to take penalties, one of which also led to a power-play goal.
The more you watch of Cam Dineen, the more you realize he thinks a game at a very high level. He handles the puck with great poise, and sees openings in the defence to thread a pass to a teammate. Dineen quarterbacks things from the point on the powerplay, showing the ability to walk the line and to create passing and shooting lanes. He makes smart plays with the puck. In addition to being an excellent playmaker, Dineen has an absolute rocket of a shot, which he keeps low, and gets it on net providing opportunities for tip-ins and rebounds. Dineen also has good stickhandling ability, which he uses to avoid forecheckers, and to skate the puck out of his own end. He can also make a good first pass to start the transition game, including being able to make a home-run pass to a streaking forward.
Dineen’s best asset is far and away his ability to see the ice offensively. His hockey sense is elite and his brain for the game is going to carry him places. I saw North Bay a lot this year and I honestly can’t remember him making a bad pass out of his own end. He also distributes exceptionally well on the powerplay and does a great job of getting a low hard point shot through to the net. The physical skills are only average (size, strength), and I’m sure there are some scouts who wish he was a little more explosive in his first few steps (he moves well and has very good overall mobility, but I do think it is a legit criticism). But you just can’t ignore how well he processes the game.
A good offence begets to good defence. After all, the other team isn’t too likely to score if you’re keeping the puck in their end the entire time, are they? But Dineen has reportedly improved his defensive game after turning down Yale for the OHL – and as he grows, both in body and in game, he’ll likely continue to improve.
As far as offensive numbers go, Dineen impressed across the board. His 59 points through 68 games weren’t only second in OHL rookie scoring behind projected top 10 (top six?) pick Alexander Nylander, but he was second in overall defencemen scoring, just one point back of Rasmus Andersson in four more games played.
Dineen was ahead of projected top defencemen picks Mikhail Sergachev, Jakob Chychrun, and Olli Juolevi by two, 10, and 17 points, respectively. He was third in Battalion scoring, behind 19 and 20-year-old forwards, and accounted for 25% of North Bay’s offence. North Bay finished third in the OHL’s Eastern Conference, so he was a major contributor on a good team – one that didn’t enter the season with high expectations originally – as well.
Thirty-five of Dineen’s points were primary; 23 came at even strength – the top defenceman in the OHL when it came to even strength primary points. He had 25 powerplay points through the year, only 11 of which were primary. He also had four shorthanded assists to round out his scoring.
Via Prospect-Stats, there is a bit of discrepancy between his shot and goal heat maps:
Fit with the Flames
The main thing that keeps coming up with Dineen’s scouting reports is that he’s a cerebral player. He thinks the game incredibly well – and who wouldn’t want that on their backend? A smart offensive mind with the appropriate tools and a developing defensive game – there’s a lot to like about Dineen as a prospect. And it’s a hint towards his talent level, as well, that he was a league leader in his first season.
True, the Flames appear to have a bright future on defence: T.J. Brodie only just turned 26, Dougie Hamilton will be 23 in a couple of days’ time, Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington have lived up to their hype in their draft+1 years. But anything can go wrong at an instance, or a player could simply not pan out. In those cases, it’s not a bad thing at all to have depth.
So Dineen is a bit undersized; he’s also extremely young, not turning 18 until five days before the first round of the draft. He also looks to be a great talent – and he could be a worthy selection at 35th overall, should he fall that far. If he makes it to the Flames’ picks in the 50s, it makes perfect sense to go after him then, too.
Previous draft targets: Alexander Nylander | Pierre-Luc Dubois | Matthew Tkachuk | Jakob Chychrun | Olli Juolevi | Clayton Keller | Alex DeBrincat | Sam Steel | Vitalii Abramov | Jake Bean | Tyson Jost | Mikhail Sergachev | Tyler Benson | Griffin Luce | Logan Brown | Samuel Girard | Will Bitten | Cliff Pu | Taylor Raddysh | Adam Mascherin | Carter Hart | Jordan Kyrou | Cam Morrison