5/15/18 – Finding Offense Within: Nick Caamano

The Dallas Stars are going to need to find offense from many different sources to make it back into the playoffs at the conclusion of the 2019 season. Efficient spending will be a key to maximizing how much offense they can add. With this series we’ll take a deep dive into some prospects who could help soon.

One of the biggest surprises of the 2017-18 training camp was prospect Nick Caamano. A 5th round pick in 2016 isn’t supposed to make as much noise as Caamano did, but he drew rave reviews from the Stars coaching staff. He even skated in a couple preseason games.

“I like him. I like him a lot,” said Hitchcock. “He’s got moxie. He’s a 19-year-old kid, but he’s got the moxie of an older player. He’s made a great account of himself, and nobody in this world would have thought he would have hung in this long. He’s still here, and when we play on Thursday he’ll be here again. That’s a good sign.”

That 19 year old kid was barely 19. He’ll turn 20 a couple weeks before camp starts in September. He was the youngest player in his draft year. Until he was traded to the Hamilton Bulldogs at the end of this year his OHL career was spent with the Flint Firebirds. You may remember them from this nonsense.

The 6’2 left shooting winger has put up respectable, but not eye popping, numbers in juniors with 121 points in his last 131 games over two seasons. Those numbers don’t suggest “future superstar”. With the right secondary skills and system fit he could provide bottom six offense fairly soon.

Given that he isn’t one of those eye-popping forwards very little video is out there of him in action. What you can see from the little that is easily accessible is a big power forward type that scores most of his goals by driving to the net.

Here he is scoring during the Hamilton playoff run by entering the zone with speed and going right to the net.

CaamanoGoal1

Not to throw unnecessary shade at our Russian friend, but this is the kind of play we always wanted to see more of from Val Nichushkin.

Caamano kills penalties too. Below is a short handed goal from earlier this season.

CaamanoGoal2

For a guy without a lot of hype that’s a nice bit of work on the breakaway. He deked the hell out of the goalie and showed some nice edge work. Check out his right skate as he comes in on the keeper.

That celebration is fun too.

In his brief six game run with the Texas Stars to end last season he registered three assists. This is one of them.

CaamanoAssist

There’s some playmaking ability in there on top of the ability to drive the net. At even strength this year he was really good. Using the numbers pulled together by prospect-stats.com we can see that he had the 10th most shots of any forward in the OHL at even strength.

Shots

(We’ll talk about number two later).

Of those shots, 45 were High Danger shots from in close. Only four forwards in the league attempted more at even strength. When you combine High Danger chances and Medium Danger chances Caamano shoots up to second in the league among forwards.

Shots2

(We’ll talk about number six later.)

The same holds true on the powerplay. Caamano finds ways to get to the net. The problem has been that he can’t score from distance. If he learns to use his playmaking ability more consistently he could be a valuable player going forward, but even as is if he can kill penalties, drive the net, play a responsible game, and occasionally score that’s a bottom six forward.

 

Antoine Roussel is a free agent looking for a raise from the two million he’s already making. Brett Ritchie is making close to two million for 14 points in a depth role. The Stars got 31 points out of the duo for close to four million. The Stars need depth scoring, but if someone like Caamano could step up to take one of their spots you’re probably getting similar production for less than half the price. All of the excess cash can then be funneled to a higher priced acquisition.

It’s entirely possible Caamano isn’t ready, but a year after the coaching staff seemingly fell in love with him it isn’t a stretch to think he could make the roster in a depth role out of camp if he has another strong showing.

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