How good is Cam Fowler?
Fowler spent most of the last 18 months being the third wheel to the Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin discussion. Despite all his success and incredible talent Fowler slid down the draft board from the clear No. 3 prospect down to the 12th player selected in the 2010 NHL Amateur Draft. How does this happen?
Fowler's story shows this was not about him in any way but definitely the perfect fit for the 6'2", 200-pound rear guard!
Fowler was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, however, his mother Bridget was born in Michigan allowing him to attain dual citizenship. This opportunity opened great doors for Fowler. His family moved to Michigan before he turned two years old.
When it came time to enter the OHL Priority Selection, Fowler was selected by the Kitchener Rangers with their first pick in the 2007 draft. At that time, Fowler had already committed to play for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish once he graduated from high school.
During that time frame Fowler thrived, playing for the U.S. Under-18 program winning gold.
In 2008, Kitchener surrendered Fowler's rights and the Windsor Spitfires wasted no time selecting him with their top pick in the 2008 OHL Priority Selection. This was not without controversy as Cam broke his agreement with Notre Dame and joined the Spitfires.
Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson was upset and held nothing back claiming Windsor made a very large financial offer luring Fowler away from the South Bend. Fowler still denies this ever occurred stating Windsor would better prepare him for a career in the NHL.
Despite all the drama, Fowler was still forecast as the No. 3 pick and some scouts claim he could very well be No. 1 or No. 2 if a team looking for a defenseman landed in one of those spots.
The move to the Spitfires was huge for Fowler. In the 2009-10 season, he showed his offensive skills as a defenseman collecting 55 points in 55 games for Windsor.
Was the decision to join Windsor instead of Notre Dame the right one? Absolutely! Consider the fact Jeff Jackson's system at Notre Dame is extremely defensive and likely wouldn't have highlighted Fowler's natural skill set.
Fowler played a major role in the Spitfires winning the OHL title as well as defending the Memorial Cup and the best Major Junior hockey team in the CHL. Adding to this, Fowler represented the USA at the World Juniors and help in the U.S. winning the gold medal.
As the draft approached, rumbles started to push up a few other names. Despite the winning results, impressive talent level and great work ethic, Fowler started to fall.
Many scouts called Fowler a truly gifted offensive defenseman. Fowler’s a natural power-play quarterback who relies heavily on his skating and puck control—now get this, Fowler's best compared to Scott Niedermayer! Now that is high praise.
That's right, just a few months after the legendary Niedermayer retires from the NHL as an Anaheim Duck, his heir apparent somehow falls to the Ducks drafting No. 12 overall in the 2010 NHL Amateur Draft.
Some scouts claim if the Ducks had the first pick overall in the draft they would have called out Fowler, so to get him at No. 12 was exactly what Anaheim needed and a dream come true.
The Ducks have 10 games to decide if Fowler is ready for the NHL. If they wish to be patient with the young blue liner the Ducks can send him back to Windsor for the rest of the 2010-11 season which includes eligibility to play in the World Juniors in Buffalo over the winter holidays.
For my money I believe Fowler is here to stay. He's hungry to prove he belongs and was deserving of a much higher draft spot. Five games into his NHL rookie year, Fowler is a minus-three, however he's been a bright spot in the Ducks lineup collecting two assists while averaging 18:06 minutes per game.
How good is Fowler? I believe he's already the Ducks best defenseman although Lubomir Visnovsky does get a little more ice time. To develop a Norris-worthy defenseman, a strong mentor is crucial. I'm sure Niedermayer talks to Fowler on a regular basis, but on the ice Visnovsky is the tutor.
For my money, the Ducks need to make a move to bring in Tomas Kaberle (yes, the price will be high, maybe Corey Perry or as Leafs fans have been pushing for, Bobby Ryan).
In the big picture, can he be comparable to Tyler Myers, Drew Doughty or even close to what Niedermayer was? Tough shoes to follow and so many variables yet to play—I still say Fowler is exactly what Anaheim needed at the perfect time so he's already way ahead of the game!