Top 25 Under 25 - #14 Tony Cameranesi

The little scoring superstar takes a big move up our rankings, announcing his arrival as a 'must-watch' prospect.

Earlier in this countdown, when we came to Connor Brown, we talked about the late-round drafting strategy of "pick the little guy who scores a lot". We've already seen a couple of players that were selected under Brian Burke's management that seem to meet that definition; Dominic Toninato, Connor Brown.

In the 5th round of the 2011 Entry Draft, the Leafs grabbed a Minnesota high school scoring machine, who put up big points in a small package. At 5'9" and 160 lbs when drafted (most sites seem to now put him around 5'10", 180) Cameranesi will never be confused as a player in the often mocked "truculent" model Burke often espoused. But what Cameranesi does, and what he's done well through 3 seasons of Minnesota high school hockey, prep hockey, and now a season at the USHL and NCAA, is score. And score. And score.

In Dominic Toninato's profile, we talked about his success at the USHL moving him up in our eyes as someone to watch. Well, Cameranesi, one year older and one year further down the development path, followed a modestly successful USHL season (42 points in 55 games with the Waterloo Black Hawks) with a great freshman season with the Universty of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, scoring 34 points in 38 games, good for a tie for 4th most points in the country by a freshman.

We've talked a lot about the context of scoring rates in certain leagues, at certain ages, and what that really means. We've noted how, as a 19-year old in their 2nd post-draft season, scoring a point a game in the CHL isn't a truly great indicator of future scoring success at the pro level. The rationale being that at 19, you are near the top of the development curve in that league, with advantages in experience, in skills development, and in physical maturity over the younger 16-18 year olds that populate the league.

The opposite is true for the NCAA. At 19 years old (the NCAA has few true 18 year old freshmen these days), you are at the younger end of the scale, competing against players in their early (and some cases, mid) 20s. Grabbing nearly a point per game as a freshman is impressive.

And in a Maple Leaf prospect system that lacks high-end offensive prospects, that gives Cameranesi an edge over a number of other prospects. So much so, that Cameranesi has taken a massive leap up 14 spots, landing at #14 in this summer's countdown.

All scouting reports about Cameranesi mention two things; he's a great finisher around the net, and he's an immensely talented skater. Some scouts believed he was the best skater available in the 2011 Entry Draft.

very attentive on the ice and has exceptional puck control. His first stride acceleration and on-ice anticipation allows him to find open ice and create scoring opportunities. Cameranesi is a hard worker on the ice, keeping his feet moving at all times. Scoring seems to come naturally for Cameranesi, possessing a killer instinct around the net. Likes to use his wrist shot and does a good job keeping the puck low.


mnhockeyprospects.com

clrkaitken birky SteveBurtch Chemmy SkinnyFish BowerPower JP Nikota PPP 67Sound Rank
12 13 15 7 19 8 15 14 15 14

EDITION 2 - 28/41
EDITION 1 - 32/45

Cameranesi's impressive freshman campaign saw him make big strides up our list, as most of the panel moved up from an honourable mention to a fixture in the Top 15, with two members putting him into the Top 10. including Chemmy, who stood up and took notice of his scoring exploits this season, moving him from 30th to 7th.

Near PPG as an NCAA freshman? I'm paying attention.
Chemmy

Skinnyfish appeared to pump the brakes slightly on the Cameranesi love. The only member of the group to leave him out of the Top 15, Cameranesi moved up just 9 places on his list, from 28th to 19th.

Anything below 15 I'm kind of throwing darts. I have him just behind Toninato because Toninato scored more in the USHL.
SkinnyFish

At 161 points, Cameranesi moved into one of the toughest battles in the countdown, in the 7-15 range. Just 8 points ahead of Greg McKegg, and just 3 points behind our #13 prospect.

The challenge for Cameranesi is now to repeat it. UMD added fellow Leaf prospect Dominic Toninato, which means that unless you have an actual US college affiliation, the UMD Bulldogs are PPP's de facto NCAA rooting interest.

The problem facing Cameranesi and Toninato is that the massive reorganization in college hockey has left the Bulldogs' conference notably weaker than it was previously, when they would routinely play collegiate powerhouses like North Dakota and Minnesota.

The formation of the Big Ten Conference left the WCHA cripppled, forced to round up the remainder of the similarly depleted CCHA conference. So this year will be a test of sorts of the quality of this new conference.

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