The Flint Firebirds 2014-15 season was known more for their issues involving the owner and the coaching staff more than the play on the ice. The long and short of it was that the original owner fired the coaching staff for not giving the owner's son more playing time; the players - including the owner's son walked out on the team; the coaching staff was re-hired; and then the staff was fired again leading to a situation where the owner was suspended from the OHL. This all transpired during a 20-42-4-2 season where the team put together the third-worst schedule in the season. Needless to say, not every prospective player looked their best. But there could be a diamond among the rough. Perhaps that could be Nicholas Caamano.
Who is Nicholas Caamano?
The most important biographical fact to know about Caamano is his birthdate. Per Elite Prospects, he was born on September 7, 1998. This makes him one of the youngest draft eligible players for this year. He's already 6'1" and he's listed at 183 pounds. The frame is decent enough, although a little more weight - by way of muscle - couldn't hurt. Caamano is a left-shooting right winger and he just completed his second season in the OHL. Here are his numbers at Elite Prospects:
Those are not exactly eye-popping numbers. He did increase his production from his 16-year old season to his 17-year old season. On that Firebirds team, his 20 goals was third on the team and his 37 points ranked fourth on the team. His 153 shots on net means he had an average of 2.39 shots per game, which isn't too shabby either. That he had a few power play points and two shorthanded points suggests he was on Flint's special teams for at least a part of last season. As unimpressive as his statline looks, it's not too terrible given the context of his team.
What's curious about him is his ranking. He's not even on Steve Kournianos' Top 250 at The Draft Analyst. Yet, someone at Central Scouting Services must have been real impressed with Caamano, particularly in the last few months. CSS had him 148th among North American skaters in their midterm ranking and Caamano finished 69th in their final rankings. A big increase like that is something that makes one go "Hmm." Yet, strangely, I don't see a big difference in production from his first 32 games (almost entirely in 2015) and his last 32 games. In his first half, he put up thirteen goals, six assists, and 69 shots on net. In his second half, he put up seven goals, eleven assists, and 84 shots on net. His shots per game rate went up but it wasn't like his production soared in the 2016 of this past season and therefore got someone's attention. It must have been something else about his play that stuck out then. Either that or the scout(s) that followed Flint and the OHL caught Caamano on some really good nights.
One more thing: he's on the 114-player invitee list for the 2016 NHL Draft Combine, which takes place this week. That will be a great place for Caamano to establish himself as someone who should be drafted - and for teams to learn more about him.
What Do Others Say About Nicholas Caamano?
Strangely, not much. Not even a non-fight video highlight. For someone in the top 100 CSS rankings, was worth inviting to the NHL combine, plays on a Canadian major junior team, plays on a team with a prospective second rounder (Will Bitten), and plays on a team that got a lot of media attention - albeit for all the wrong reasons - that's odd to me.
The only guy with information on Caamano and his game would be the OHL prospects guru himself, Brock Otten of OHL Prospects. Otten listed Caamano among his top 50 OHL prospects for the draft at 33rd. Here's what he wrote about the young winger.
Good sized winger who possesses a lot of redeeming qualities. Has good speed and is able to create space for his linemates by pushing the tempo. But he's also a very effective player in close to the net, where he's not afraid to battle for position and shows good hands in close. Caamano also is a solid two-way player who is dedicated to the backcheck. I think I do have questions about just how much offensive potential he has, particularly as a goal scorer. But there's definitely enough to like about his play this season to warrant, at least, a mid round selection. Just where will he be when he adds strength? Will that make him a dominant force off the rush? Will that improve his shot? Will that allow his physical game to evolve even more?
I'm curious at the use of the phrase "redeeming qualities." It makes me wonder what about his game needs redeeming. Otten gets at some of it by questioning his current offensive potential and strength. The former would explain why he's a potential mid-round selection, something Otten thinks Caamano is worth. That may not get better regardless of his relatively young age. The latter, while fixable, is something that could use fixing.
An Opinion of Sorts
I'd like to think that after his combine and more sites look into the mid-round picks, there could be more about Caamano that could add insight as to what he's about. Because it's really weird to me that CSS rates him as a top 100 North American skater eligible for this draft, that he's been invited to the combine, and there's so little out there on him. It could be up to timing. So there could more about him in the future that would guide one's opinion on him.
As for now, I still have the initial impression that his best asset from a prospect perspective is that he's quite young. He's not 18 years old. He won't be until after he's picked. If you, as an organization, pick him in June, then you're hoping that the progress he's shown from his 16-year old season to his 17-year old season will keep going up. That he'll be more prolific on the scoresheet and more important for Flint in 2016-17. As an 18-year old, that should be expected. Does that suggest he'll have a NHL career? Maybe, if it does happen. If not, then I'd have my doubts. Pretty much every draft pick is based on a belief that the player will/could become "somebody" at the next level. My impression is that for Caamano, there has to be a little bit more. His young age and perhaps his current team situation could account for it. But I'm hesitant to say he's worth taking in the middle of the draft for the Devils as opposed to others. I don't see anything in the numbers, his splits, or even views from others that makes him really stand out. That could change - a strong showing at the combine would get him more attention - but for now, I remain hesitant on the young Firebird.
Now that you saw what I had to say, I want to know your take on Nicolas Caamano? Like Hudson Elynuik, who Alex profiled, does his rapid ascent up CSS’s rankings intrigue him? Do you see something in Caamano that may not be so apparent, something that could get enough attention for a combine invite and a big jump in the CSS rankings? Where would you consider taking someone like him? Do you have more info to provide about him? If so, please do so in the comments along with answers to the other questions and/or thoughts about this player. Thank you all for reading.