By Matt Vevoda
More than pleased he was still available, the Ducks selected defensman Cam Fowler
with the 12th overall pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft on Friday evening at Staples Center.
Fowler, ranked fifth in the final Central Scouting Rankings among North American skaters, tallied 55 points in 55 games with the Windsor Spitfires in 2009-10 to go along with a plus-38 rating. Prior to that, he played two seasons with the U.S. National Training Development Program. Born in Windsor, he calls Northville, Michigan home and holds dual citizenship in Canada and the United States.
"I’m just so excited to be a Duck," said Fowler shortly after being selected. "It’s a great day for me. I’ve followed the Ducks for a couple of years. They are definitely headed in the right direction. They have so many pieces to the puzzle."
The 6-1 blueliner, along with first overall pick Taylor Hall, helped lead Windsor to its second straight Memorial Cup crown this past season. He also won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2010 World Junior Championship and was named the 2009 Under-18 World Championship's Top Defenseman.
Despite sliding down the draft board slightly after being pegged by many as one of the top picks, Fowler was enthusiastic to be joining Anaheim. "They said they were really surprised I fell to them," he said. "I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.
"I came to a great organization that was excited to have me. At the end of the day, that is all that really matters. You want somebody that is confident in you and somebody that is happy to have you on board."
The Ducks were just as excited in bringing Fowler to the organization. "The numbers kept going down and the two defensemen were still there, Cam Fowler
and Brandon Gormley," Ducks Executive VP/GM Bob Murray said. "We got lucky that a bunch of teams were looking for forwards. I think it started with Columbus when they took Ryan Johansen and it snowballed from there. That changed everything. A lot teams wanted forwards and we’re not disappointed that they did."
Having just said goodbye to a renowned puck-moving defenseman in Scott Niedermayer, who retired after 18 NHL seasons last Tuesday, the Ducks coose a player who looks up to and emulates the future Hall-of-Famer.
Niedermayer was among the group, along with Ducks Owner Henry Samueli, CEO Michael Schulman, Murray, Head Coach Randy Carlyle and Director of Amateur Scouting Martin Madden, on the draft stage to greet Fowler following his selection.
"That was just such an honor for me to go up on the stage and shake his hand," Fowler said of Niedermayer. "He just said, 'Congratulations.' I was like ‘Oh my gosh, it’s Scott Niedermayer.’ The rest kind of blacked out from there. Hopefully, I can get to talk to him a little bit more and pick his brain on some things."
Whether Fowler can immediately jump into the mix on the Ducks blue line will remain to be seen once training camp comes around, but he is intent on putting his best foot forward come September.
"I’m definitely going to put all of my effort into it," Fowler said. "It’s a goal that I set for myself. I want to try to play next year. I have to go into training camp and prove myself. I have to continue develop and get stronger."
Said Murray, "It’s against all my instincts ever to do that to a young man, but if he makes our hockey, he makes our hockey team. That is the way it’s going to be. The way the game works with the cap now, you can’t wait like you used to. We’re going to do our best to get him ready to make that team next year."