Coming in at #39 we have Cam Dineen, one of a few small(ish) defensemen who may be getting overlooked a little bit heading into the draft.
After the jump we’ll take a look at one of the most statistically impressive defenders coming out of the OHL this season.
- Age: 17, 1998-06-19
- Birthplace: Toms River, NJ, USA
- Frame: 5’11 183 lbs
- Position: D
- Handedness: L
- Draft Year Team: North Bay Battallion
- Accomplishments: Team USA at 2015-2016 Ivan Hlinka tournament
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Dineen as an OHL rookie has been an offensive revelation of the defensively minded Stan Butler. Dineen is the driving force behind the Battalion offence and while size is a concern; his defensive game has developed under Butler noticeably this year. Dineen is a smooth skating offensive defenceman who loves to join the rush. He has excellent offensive vision and creativity making him a lethal power play quarterback. Dineen’s skating ability and transition game are his strengths that should propel him into today’s NHL.
Dineen has good raw offensive qualities; he brings above-average mobility and hands to the table. However, the biggest reason for his success is his hockey sense. Dineen is one of the smartest players in the draft. He takes the extra second to make a play and evades pressure as well as anyone. His timing on his passes is always spot-on, and he knows when and when not to jump up into the attack. In fact, his hockey sense has allowed him to be a not only competent but also useful defensive defenseman, in spite of his size. He isn’t an overly flashy player, but he has shown this season that he can be a very effective two-way defenseman. Teams that can overlook his size might land a gem.
With great mentors on the ice, and a fantastic talent developer in Stan Butler guiding his progression, NHL teams would be crazy to not consider Dineen as a first round pick. A quick examination of the NHL’s defenseman scoring leaders right now and three of the top five (Klingberg, Letang, and Subban) were not first round picks. These are guys who did not possess elite size upon being drafted, but who have excelled because of the way the game is changing.
Cam Dineen flew under the radar in a big way leading into his draft eligible season. He was taken all the way in the 11th round of the 2014 OHL priority selection due to the fact that he had made a verbal commitment to play in the NCAA with Yale. Dineen ended up breaking off his commitment to come play with North Bay in the OHL believing it would be a better path for him to progress as a hockey player and an NHL prospect.
The general consensus with Dineen is that his greatest asset is his mind. He’s been described as a cerebral player and no one would deny that he possesses an above average hockey IQ. What he lacks in physicality is made up by playing sound positionaly and keeping an active stick to disrupt opposition players. While he’s not really considered a burner, he is a smooth skater and does possess the kind of speed needed to effectively jump in to the play or close ground should an opposing player get behind him. He possesses a hard, accurate shot and has a knack for getting it through shot blocking defenders on the way to the net.
Dineen’s season started off a little slowly while he was still getting himself acquainted with the league as an OHL rookie. Around the 20 game mark of the season a couple important things happened for Cam. First, North Bay traded away overage defensman Miles Liberati, which gave Dineen a better chance to show his offensive abilities. And second, teammate Kyle Wood returned from injury and the began to grow chemistry and play together as regular partners. By the midway point of the season, Dineen was playing heavy minutes in all situations on North Bay’s top pair and scoring as well as any defenseman in the OHL.
By the numbers Dineen looks quite impressive. Though the sample he matched against only contained 14 players, the prospect of getting a player with a 50% likelihood of being an NHLer outside of the first round is one NHL teams should be relishing. And while the raw numbers aren’t quite in the same range, his stature and position on the league scoring chart are reminiscent of recent prospect standouts like Ryan Ellis and Anthony DeAngelo. While an argument about quality of teammates can be made, given that he spent the vast majority of his time with another very good OHL defenseman in Kyle Wood, the fact remains the Dineen played a lot of minutes, against strong competition, and scored at a well above league average rate.
Cam Dineen has the look of a prototypical ‘new’ NHL defenseman. Rather than defending using size and strength he uses his high hockey IQ and sound positioning, makes quick transitions from defense to offense, and is equally proficient at jumping into the rush or hanging back and unloading a big shot from the point. If a team can overlook his slightly less than ideal size he has the makings of an excellent pick anywhere from the last third of the first round onward.