Cam Fowler has endured a lot for a kid that was drafted into the NHL at 18 years old.
To most, it is a distant memory: the scene on draft day when he was passed over repeatedly after every scout who had an opinion ranked him first to third overall in the 2010 Entry Draft. This was supposed to be his big day. The day the hockey world would hear of the next great defenseman graduating from juniors to the big leagues. Visions of Orr, Potvin, Bourque, Coffey and his idol Scott Neidermayer could not help but to have crossed his mind.
After all, he had won a Memorial Cup with the Windsor Spitfires and proved himself at 18 to be one of the most accomplished two-way defenseman in the entire draft, producing 55 points in as many games.
Cam and his father sat and waited. Their smiles turned to frowns and the frowns soon turned into misery as one player after another was selected ahead of him.
Finally, with the 12th pick the Anaheim Mighty Ducks selected the 6’2" 190 pound defenseman. The pain in his face was visible and entirely human.
You cannot help wondering what Fowler was thinking.
Maybe he was thinking, “What did I do wrong?”
He most assuredly was thinking, “I will show them all just watch me.”
Cam Fowler wearing number four (the same number made famous by Bobby Orr) has begun to show everyone who doubted him that he belongs in the NHL and will be an elite player.
According to Wikipedia thee NHL Central Scouting Bureau ranked Fowler as the fifth best North American prospect for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. In their final update he had dropped two places, having been ranked at No. 3, behind Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin, for most of the season.
He was described by the Central Scouting Bureau as an offensive quarterback on the power play who relies on his skating and puck control. He has been inaccurately compared to NHL defensemen Chris Pronger and Dion Phaneuf, but does not play the same physical style as either of the two and is faster on his skates.
In eight months, Fowler has battled his way back from a long drop in the anticipated entry draft order to one of the catalysts of the team’s offense and defense. Local scribes have commented that Fowler is “making offensive contributions not seen from a first-year blueliner in decades.”
Fowler does not speak of it but his success is just as much about his internal drive and motivation his need to prove himself as it is about his offensive and defensive skills.
"You’ve got to pinch yourself every once in a while," Fowler told a reporter. "As a 19-year-old, it’s a dream come true."
His team is in the hunt in the Western Conference playoff race and Cam seems to realize the importance of consistent play down the stretch. The Ducks were not considered a factor prior to the beginning of the season and he is aware of the role he has played in the team’s resurgence.
Most noticeable as a point man on the power play, Fowler has earned four of his 7 goals and 12 of his 22 assists with the man-advantage. Surprisingly his productivity exceeds that of notable young defenders like Drew Doughty, Zach Bogosian, Brent Seabrook,and several others known for offensive productivity. He leads all NHL rookies in power-play assists and points.
Fowler remains last on the team with a minus-15 rating, five points lower than the next closest teammate. He is also last in plus-minus among the 171 rookies who have played this season. The other knock on Fowler prior to the season was that he might not be able to take the rough going and that he was not tough enough. Fowler was tested early on and absorbed some hard checks and injuries but showed he could handle the rough going by bouncing right back.
"He can be stronger defensively, he can even shoot the puck more," said Ducks coach and former Norris Trophy winner Randy Carlyle. "His strengths and the positive plays he makes on the ice far outweigh the negatives, so we feel very fortunate to have a young player like him."
Fowler was born in Canada his family relocated to Michigan when he was two-years-old. A dual citizen, initially his sport was baseball. He played up until four years ago, when as a sophomore infielder he led Farmington High School to its first state final appearance.
As a defenseman playing with eventual Edmonton rookie forward Taylor Hall, the two led the Spitfires to multiple major championships.
On being selected number 12 in the draft Fowler told reporters “It was tough to sit there while it was happening, but I think Anaheim, out of any team, gave me the best chance to succeed and needed my skill set the most," Fowler said. "It’s important when the team is as happy to get you as you are to be drafted by them."
He is not finished showing them yet. The question is how many teams will be kicking themselves for not drafting him. Already Fowler has outplayed several who were selected before him.
It is obvious the Ducks are happy with their choice and Fowler is happy the Ducks wanted him.
Some things just seem to work out.