Tuesday, June 1, 2010

First round draft spotlight: Cam Fowler

The third in my First round spotlight series, Fowler should be the first defender off the board in Los Angeles, but Erik Gudbranson and Brandon Gormley have been hot on his tail.

In case you missed them, I did Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin at the end of May, so be sure to check the archives for more on the top two prospects in the 2010 draft class.

Now, I begin to chronicle the rest of the mortals, beginning with Fowler:

Cam Fowler, D Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
6-2, 190
Born: December 6, 1991 in Windsor, Ontario
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

Strengths: A beautiful skater and passer, Fowler looks the part of a marquee No. 1 NHL defenseman, but some questions have come up about his overall game and lack of physiciality. The best mobility of any defenseman in the draft class; a long-strider who quickly accelerates to top speed and has outstanding four-way directional mobility. A master of his edges: blessed with uncanny balance and agility, allowing him to turn and pivot smoothly and effortlessly. Fluid in his movements; able to explode forward and lead the rush, but can rapidly reverse direction and recover to play defense when the play goes the other way. Effortlessly straddles the blue line and moves up and down with the puck while working the man advantage, forcing the penalty killers to move their box and disrupt their rhythm. Superb passer who makes the easy outlet pass to transition the breakout from his zone and can also hit the long, bomb to spring the breakaway. Very good hockey IQ: Sees the ice well and is an effective puck distributor. Strong positional defender who can play a shutdown role with his mobility and agility. A winner: won gold medals at 2009 IIHF Under-18 Championship and 2010 World Jr. (under-20) Championship tourneys, as well as being a member of 2010 OHL and Memorial Cup Champion Windsor Spitfires. A point-per-game player: 8 goals, 55 points in 55 games from the blue line. Mature and articulate; carries himself like a pro already and should be welcomed into the organization who drafts him with open arms.

Weaknesses: Doesn't play a very physical or aggressive defensive style; does not take the body when a contact-oriented approach is warranted, and tends to play the puck before the man, exposing him to lost one-on-one battles against skill players. Point shot could use some improvement in mechanics, namely power and accuracy. Doesn't always make the right decision to pass or shoot in the offensive zone and has a tendency to defer to older, more experienced teammates rather than exploit open shooting lanes himself.

Style compares to: Scott Niedermayer (skating), Tomas Kaberle

Draft prediction: Third overall to Florida Panthers. New GM Dale Tallon overpaid for Brian Campbell on the open market when he was running the show in Chicago, so he'll recognize the value of Fowler and the potential of the 1-2 punch he'll form with Dmitri Kulikov. Every year, scouts nitpick a high-end player to death because they can, and Fowler is that guy for 2010. Much ado has been made over Gudbranson and Gormley (and even Derek Forbort) but at the end of the day, none of those guys can skate as well nor do they possess the pure upside that Fowler has. The popgun shot and lack of physical play are things that can be addressed.

Projection: No. 1 or 2 offensive defenseman and potential NHL All-Star with 60-point upside. Should excel on special teams both on the power play and special teams units because of his skill and speed. Will likely be a better PP set-up man/puck distributor than triggerman, but has the toolbox to log a lot of minutes in every situation.

Background: Born in Windsor, Ontario, but moved to Farmington Hills, Michigan when a toddler when father was transferred for job with the Ford Motor Company. Parents are Perry and Bridget Fowler; dad is Canadian and a "Newfie", while mom is American and from Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe. Played for elite Michigan minor hockey system Honeybaked AAA Midget where teammates included NHL prospects Kenny Ryan, Chris Brown, Kevin Lynch and Drew Shore. Graduate of the U.S. National Team Developmental Program and originally committed to Notre Dame University. Opted for OHL when the Kitchener Rangers relinquished his rights, and his birthplace major junior team Windsor Spitfires then selected him in '08 OHL draft. Favorite NHL team growing up: Montreal Canadiens Favorite NHL players growing up: Nicklas Lidstrom and Scott Niedermayer


“He’s your prototypical offensive-defenseman. He's your (quarterback) on your (power-play), he's your great skating offensive-defenseman and he controls the puck with his skills. If you're looking for a comparison, think of (Tomas) Kaberle with the Maple Leafs. But in sticking with his country, maybe even a future (Brian) Leetch or (Phil) Housley.”- E.J. Maguire, Director of NHL's Central Scouting to Florida Panthers.com

"Maybe if this was a decade ago, Cam would be in a group of five or 10 kids you could argue over. But in today's game, which is so much about skating, quickness and moving the puck? I'm not sure if you'll find anyone who doesn't think Cam is the top defenseman."- Windsor GM Warren Rychel to NHLFanhouse.com; November, 2009

“He’s such a smooth, effortless skater, and he has a tendency to make difficult plays look a lot easier than they are. He’s still building his confidence at this level, and even though at times you want him to be more assertive (defensively), I’d say that he’s coming along well in his development, and the assertiveness will come as he gains more experience.”- NHL scout to New England Hockey Journal; February, 2010

“With the draft so close, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it. At the same time, it’s all about the team in Windsor and trying to achieve our ultimate goals of winning an OHL championship and defending the Memorial Cup title, so that’s where my focus is: on my team and teammates and continuing to win games.”- Cam Fowler to New England Hockey Journal; Feburary, 2010

"We felt the OHL was the best way to get me prepared for the National Hockey League. Hockey is my passion and I'd like to do it for a living someday."- Cam Fowler to Winnipeg Free Press; May, 2010

The scoop:

Fowler could fill Bruins' needs


1 comment:

  1. Wow... this would be my "whatever it takes" trade, if there was any chance that Florida would move this pick.