TLN Top Twenty Prospects: No. 17 - Tony Cameranesi

Justin Fisher
August 22 2013 08:54AM

Name: Tony Cameranesi
Position: Center
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:

Previously in the Top 20:

#18: Connor Brown
#19: Andrew MacWilliam
#20: David Broll
Honourable Mentions

 

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Justin Fisher is a Toronto-based writer of sorts. He likes hockey and comic books and sriracha sauce. He doesn't like Don Cherry. Follow him on Twitter: @thejustinfisher
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#1 kadri2kessel
August 22 2013, 10:16AM
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I also had this guy ahead of Biggs. I have to say I do find it a bit funny that some of you appear to be pro soup-can enforcer types by your rankings. Especially, when these big bodied gritty players (like clarkson, orr, mclaren) are often negatively covered compared to more skilled players (macarthur, frattin etc)

Come clean here. Admit it, but you guys really enjoy and see the value in Caryle's style of gritty big bodies players but are too afraid to admit so.

At any rate, I was impressed that he was nearly a PPG in the NCAA. Too bad he will never play many shifts for Caryle and his penchant love of facepunchers and gritty players though hopefully Carlyle will gone by the time he is NHL ready.

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#2 Steve Dangle
August 22 2013, 10:33AM
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kadri2kessel wrote:

I also had this guy ahead of Biggs. I have to say I do find it a bit funny that some of you appear to be pro soup-can enforcer types by your rankings. Especially, when these big bodied gritty players (like clarkson, orr, mclaren) are often negatively covered compared to more skilled players (macarthur, frattin etc)

Come clean here. Admit it, but you guys really enjoy and see the value in Caryle's style of gritty big bodies players but are too afraid to admit so.

At any rate, I was impressed that he was nearly a PPG in the NCAA. Too bad he will never play many shifts for Caryle and his penchant love of facepunchers and gritty players though hopefully Carlyle will gone by the time he is NHL ready.

Yeah but are you reading these things? Everyone who writes a profile asked to write about that specific player because they believe in them.

Also, Cam ranked Broll high, but collectively he almost didn't even mae the list.

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#4 @ShawnMacLean
August 22 2013, 05:28PM
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This guy is the reason I even followed WHCA hockey this past season. With Dominic Toninato joining him, I'm pretty excited for MIN-Duluth's upcoming season.

Great write up and hoping he has an even better follow-up season. One talented player.

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#5 WesternDP
August 22 2013, 05:49PM
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A small prolific scoring college guy?

Isn't this just a slightly larger, but younger, less developed version of Marlie and Hobie Baker finalist Spencer Abbott?

I'm not sure that Abbott is more than a fringe NHLer, though he may become a good AHLer, so I can't get excited about Tony Cameranesi. Perhaps I will change my mind when he is out of college and playing in the AHL?

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#6 veritas
August 22 2013, 08:17PM
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WesternDP wrote:

A small prolific scoring college guy?

Isn't this just a slightly larger, but younger, less developed version of Marlie and Hobie Baker finalist Spencer Abbott?

I'm not sure that Abbott is more than a fringe NHLer, though he may become a good AHLer, so I can't get excited about Tony Cameranesi. Perhaps I will change my mind when he is out of college and playing in the AHL?

the key there is 'younger.' abbott was 24 when he joined the marlies, and will likely be a really good AHLer who can't stick in the NHL but will probably get called up occasionally.

cameranesi has the benefit of being drafted in his first year of eligibility, as well as being a late birthday (he was technically 17 when he was drafted). considering his success thus far in the NCAA, i would be shocked if he stayed there for the full 4 years -- i imagine he'd follow the path of jerry d'amigo rather than that of matt frattin or andrew macwilliam (who both played 4 years of college). frattin didn't dominate college until his junior year (the 2nd half after his suspension was lifted, that is). cameranesi is already outperforming frattin, although frattin was on a strong team, cameranesi is on a weaker team.

anyway, my point is that cameranesi will probably be playing in the AHL as early as next season. if he's starting in the AHL at age 21 or even 22, he'll have that much more time to develop and see if he can play at a higher level.

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#7 Western DP
August 22 2013, 09:34PM
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@@ShawnMacLean

I actually matriculated at UMD, and have heard this player occasionally will take a shift off during a game. I am really not that impressed.

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#8 veritas
August 22 2013, 09:36PM
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Western DP wrote:

I actually matriculated at UMD, and have heard this player occasionally will take a shift off during a game. I am really not that impressed.

Good post.

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#10 WesternDP
August 23 2013, 09:09AM
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"the key there is 'younger.' abbott was 24 when he joined the marlies, and will likely be a really good AHLer who can't stick in the NHL but will probably get called up occasionally.

...anyway, my point is that cameranesi will probably be playing in the AHL as early as next season. if he's starting in the AHL at age 21 or even 22, he'll have that much more time to develop and see if he can play at a higher level."

I don't think Cameransi is playing the AHL next year. We will know in the summer because he will be on the rookie tournament roster, which just came out for this year.

My guess is that he goes to college for four years. Let's revisit this next year.

"It took Abbott until his Junior year to put up the kind of numbers Cameranesi had in his Freshmen year.

I'm totally fine with people being concerned about his size or his defensive play to whatever, but comparing him to Abbott is a weak argument for having doubts."

I think it's valid. They are similar both are small, skilled college guys.

Cameranesi put up more points than Abbott in his rookie year, but it's only one year. He might fall back in his second year or top out. Abbott got consistently better stats every year and became a Hobey Baker finalist. When and if Cameranesi exceeds that, I will be happy to move him up a notch.

For comparison with another small skilled college guy...Brian Gionta had 62 pointsin his first year in college.

I think Cameranesi will be a couple notches below that. Is it enough to get him beyond being a small star in AHL? only time will tell.

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#12 WesternDP
August 23 2013, 07:50PM
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@Justin Fisher

Well feel free to point out a better comparable from among all the other small college guys that have recently made the NHL.

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#14 WesternDP
August 24 2013, 10:16PM
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@Justin Fisher

I knew you would try that.

Cogliano is way better. Cogliano represented Canada at the Junior World Cup in the summer of 2004 and lead the team in scoring. He represented Canada in the 2006 World Juniors in Vancouver, winning a gold medal and again won gold with Canada at the World Juniors in Sweden.

Tony Cameranesi has never made the USA World Junior squad once and has never played in World Junior game...let alone winning a gold medal twice like Cogliano.

Tony Cameranesi has only played in the 2011 World Junior A Challenge which is the tournament where Canada is represented by two regional squads: East and West. The US iced players from the USHL. Canada West beat Canada East that year.

This lack of big time international success is one of the major reasons why I think Tony Cameranesi is probably an AHL player, maybe a fringe guy in the NHL.

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