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Behind The Bench: Cam Fowler

by on 08/11/2011

Born: December 5, 1991
Ht: 6’2″
Wt: 190 lbs
Draft: 12th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in 2010
Plays for: Anaheim Ducks, Defense, Shoots Left
Jersey No.: #4

NHL Stats

Regular Season: 76 GP – 10 G – 30 A – 40 P
Playoffs: 6 GP – 1 G – 3 A – 4 P

Only 6 players from the 2010 NHL Entry Draft made their respective teams out of training camp for the 10/11 season and Cam Fowler is the only player outside of the top 10 to make his team.

Fowler was drafted by the Kitchener Rangers first overall in the 2007 OHL Priority Selection but refused to sign with the Rangers because he has already committed to Notre Dame and playing in the OHL would have cost him his eligibility to play in the NCAA. He instead made a two-year commitment to the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. While under the program, Fowler won a gold-medal with Team USA at the 2009 IIHF World U18 Championships. He was named best defenseman of the tournament and named to the U18 all-star team along with teammates Adam Clendening and Jack Campbell.

The following season, the Rangers surrendered Fowler’s OHL rights allowing him to be selected first overall by the Windsor Spitfires in the 2008 OHL Priority Selection. Fowler broke his agreement with Notre Dame and agreed to play for the Windsor Spitfires for the 09/10 season. Fowler’s decision upset the university officals who alleged he was paid under the table by the OHL. Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson alleged that the Rangers offered Fowler a package worth $500,000 to break his commitment with Notre Dame and believe the Spitfires made him an offer to leave the school as well. Fowler denied all accusations, starting he was completely honest with both sides and that he made the decision to join the OHL believing it would better prepare him for the NHL.

Fowler was ranked 5th overall by Central Scouting but Fowler’s night last longer than he expected. With the retirement of Scott Niedermayer during the 2010 offseason, the Ducks had a large hole to fill on the backend and they were lucky enough to have Fowler drop into their laps during the draft as the Ducks selected Fowler 12th overall.

Fowler impressed the Ducks during training camp and won a spot on the Ducks opening day roster. Fowler made an immediate impact with the team, although he did not put up many points in his first month, he proved to be a solid defender. In the first 3 games of the season Fowler was a -2 despite the team giving up a combined 13 goals and only scoring 2 goals, one of them while on the power play. Fowler scored his first NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes, he also suffered a broken nose during the game after his face hit the boards after a Shane Doan bodycheck. Fowler missed 6 games but returned in early November to  continue his excellent offensive play. In November, Fowler recorded 1 goal and 8 assists but was a -9. Fowler continued to consistently put up points throughout the season but often struggled defensively in his own zone. Fowler finished the season in the top 30 for scoring among defensemen, he scored 10 goals and added 30 assists for 40 points but finished 4th worst in the league for plus-minus. Fowler finished his rookie season with a team-worst -25. Fowler did most of his damage on the power play, he had 23 points while on the power play.

Despite his ugly -25 rating, Fowler will continue to see top 4 minutes and will man the point on the first unit. The Ducks haven’t been very active this offseason, besides two trades with the Edmonton Oilers to bring in Kurtis Foster and Andrew Cogliano, the team remains the same. Fowler will be expected to continue his contributions from the back-end while improving his defensive game to the NHL level. Playing on the first unit power play with Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Lubomir Visnovsky will only help his point total and if Francois Beauchemin can recapture his 2007 form, Fowler’s plus-minus will be much better. Fowler should put up between 50-55 points next season with 30 points coming from the power play.

Fowler is an offensive power play quarterback that relies on his skating and puck control. He’s offensive instincts and hockey sense are as good as any other defensemen drafted in 2010. He has a good shot from the point that he can get through traffic. Fowler is a great skater, he is great at starting the rush or jumping into the play. He has a great work ethic and attitude. Fowler plays the game with a lot of poise and has great anticipation on both sides of the puck. In spite of his offensive prowess he is just as good defensively. Even though he finished his rookie season with a -25, Fowler is not a liability in his own zone. He is very responsible in his own zone and reads plays very well and will take the body when needed but for him to become a dominate defender in the NHL he needs to put on more weight.

Fowler has the potential and skill to be a franchise defender, he just needs to put on some weight and increase the physicality of his game. Even if he doesn’t put on more weight or increase his physicality, Fowler will still become an elite defender in the very near future. There will be 9 teams kicking themselves for not picking Fowler third, fourth, or eleventh overall because in the very near future, he will be Anaheim’s franchise rearguard.

Are 19-year-old rookie defenders allowed to do this (see video below) because someone might want to let him know, he’s not supposed to do that. Yet.

Behind The Bench appears Monday to Friday only on puckpuckgoose.com.

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