|His statistics aren't flashy, but Mississauga St. Michael's Majors forward Joseph Cramarossa will have other assets at his disposal at the 2011 Entry Draft. |
The 18-year-old center spent this season refining his two-way game, and he certainly got enough opportunities -- the Majors advanced to the Ontario Hockey League championship series and the title game of the Memorial Cup.
Cramarossa credited Majors coach Dave Cameron for his growth this season. He had 12 goals, 20 assists and 101 penalty minutes in 59 regular-season games, and 4 points in 16 OHL playoff games. It earned him the No. 63 spot on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the Draft.
"He (Cameron) just told me to play physical. You’re not going to make it to the next level as a goal scorer. Not a lot of people do," said the 6-foot, 188-pounder. "You have to buy into this power-forward role and it will help you get places."
Growing up in Markham, Ont., Cramarossa enjoyed the company of sharp hockey minds long before joining the highly regarded Cameron in Mississauga. He was a peewee linemate of Jeff Skinner and graduated with honors from St. Michael's College, a school whose alumni include Frank Mahovlich, Red Kelly, Jason Spezza and Tyler Seguin. But the most influential person in his life may be the coach of that heralded peewee team -- his father, Vito Cramarossa.
"I started coaching him at (age) 5," Vito Cramarossa said. "Joseph has much more finesse than I ever dreamed I could have. Kids today are much more talented than we were 30 years ago."
The elder Cramarossa should know. He captained the Toronto Marlies of the OHL and was drafted by Washington in the sixth round of the 1984 Draft, but never made the NHL.
What Vito said he remembers was the player taken five spots before him, a college-bound forward named Brett Hull.
"Our careers don't really mirror each other," Vito said. "It (the draft) was a tough day. I was ranked really high. So if there is anything I tell Joseph, it's just hope for the best. Whatever happens happens.”
Vito Cramarossa opted for earning his insurance license and starting a family in Markham, the Toronto suburb that has seen the likes of Adam Oates, Steven Stamkos, and Michael Del Zotto advance to the NHL. While Vito's own draft day was something of a cautionary tale, his other hockey experiences have assisted in the development of his eldest son.
"Whenever I need something, I can just ask him because he has been through all the exact things," Joseph said. "He's been through all of it. Whether it's injuries, being scratched -- all the different things leading up to the draft."
The resulting hard-nosed, two-way approach to the game earned Cramarossa his solid ranking by NHL Central Scouting.
"Teams want winners, so whatever comes with personal rewards will come from team success," said Cramarossa, who said his focus is more on winning than individual statistics. "A lot of people have told me that points don't matter. It's whatever a team is looking for. I'm more of a shut-down, in-your-face, energetic player."
There is one aspect of the younger Cramarossa’s career that his father can't relate to. More than a dozen of his fights have been immortalized on YouTube, building a fringe following for the NHL prospect.
"I think one of my fights had 2,500 views. I don't know who that 2,500 is, but that's a lot of people. It's kind of weird," Joseph said.
But while he's become a bit of a YouTube hit, he hasn't had any luck finding online video of his father.
"I've searched his name a few times," Joseph said. "Can't find anything."