August 22 2013 08:54AM
Name: Tony Cameranesi
Hometown: Maple Grove, Minnesota
Size: 5'10", 180lb
2013 Team: University of Minnesota-Duluth (WCHA)
Acquired: Draft - 5th round, 2011
Plain and simple, I don't think Tony Cameranesi has gotten the attention he deserves. As a 5th round pick from two years ago, it's understandable that the Minnesota high school product took a backseat to more high profile prospects in the Leafs system. Still, Cameranesi followed up a strong rookie season with Waterloo of the USHL with an equally, if not stronger rookie season with Minnesota-Duluth in the NCAA.
With 14 goals and 34 points in 38 games, Cameranesi finished the season tied for 20th in WCHA scoring, and tied for 3rd in scoring amongst WCHA freshmen. It didn't take long for Cameranesi to become a go-to guy on a relatively weak Bulldogs team, grabbing the number one centre role and not letting go.
I reached out to Corey Pronman of Puck Prospectus for his thoughts on Cameranesi's season, and his response was encouraging:
"I like him even though he's a small player. I think he's a top 15 prospect in Toronto's system. He's quick, skilled and can set up plays. He may not be dynamic and you want that at his size but he has a significant talent level. Camaranesi was quite impressive as a Freshman."
Huh. Sounds like we may have ranked him too low.
Along with incoming Leafs prospect Dominic Toninato, Cameranesi will be expected to play a key role for the Bulldogs over the next two to three seasons. With a noticeable lack of seniors on the roster, Cameranesi will receive plenty of responsibility and ice time - a perfect situation for a young college hockey player.
In terms of reaching the NHL, Cameranesi's biggest obstacle is his size. At 20 years old, it's unlikely his 5'10 frame will grow much more. Further development of a two-way game will also be important; for a player of his size and skill, Cameranesi would do well to continue improving his defensive game, or risk being labelled 'Top Six or Bust'.
If he can leverage his incredible speed and offensive skills however, there's a reasonable chance Cameranesi can reach the NHL. When you hear a player needs to improve his skating before he can make the jump, it's often times a kiss of death. For Cameranesi, it's a matter of continuing to improve on his already strong qualities. Cameranesi likely tops out as a speedy, two-way forward at the NHL level - we'll call it Andrew Cogliano-esque.
For your viewing pleasure, here's a brief Cameranesi interview with Paul Hendrick following Day 3 of Leafs Prospect Camp back in July: