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Cammarata packs dynamic ability into small frame

by Adam Kimelman

Coaches often will spend extra time with their players in their NHL draft-eligible seasons to make sure they focus on the present and not worry about what might happen in the future.

Waterloo Black Hawks coach P.K. O'Handley is pretty sure he won't need to have many of those conversations with forward Taylor Cammarata.

"Taylor is controlling what he can control, and that's himself and doing what he can for our team," O'Handley told "There's not much to have to keep in check with Taylor. He's pretty well-grounded that way."

Cammarata (5-foot-7, 156 pounds) has certainly been doing a lot to impress the scouts this season. He's fourth in the United States Hockey League in scoring with 17 points in nine games. He's been away from the team for the past two weeks helping the United States win the gold medal at the World Junior A Challenge with a goal and three assists in four games.

"He was one of the most noticeable guys on the U.S. team. Every time he was on the ice, he made something happen. … He was around the puck, creating, scoring. He was very noticeable every game, every shift." -- NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards

"He was one of the most noticeable guys on the U.S. team," NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards, who watched each game of the tournament, told "Every time he was on the ice, he made something happen. … He was around the puck, creating, scoring. He was very noticeable every game, every shift."

Cammarata earned a C rating from Central Scouting in its preliminary rankings of players to watch for the 2013 NHL Draft, and in addition to playing in the World Junior A Challenge, he was one of 40 players picked to play in the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game.

"He's definitely a dynamic skater," Central Scouting's David Gregory told "He's very good stopping and starting, so he can get to full speed quickly. When you talk about his size, it's going to be something he has to continue to develop and have be a big part of his game to be effective as a pro. He's pretty smart with the puck too. He can dish it well, he's a good passer, a creative passer. … For his size he's not afraid to go into traffic and make a play, and he has enough vision that he can make a play even when he is in some tough spots."

What stands out most about Cammarata is the effectiveness of his game at his size. While some might see that as a hindrance to having a career in professional hockey, Cammarata sees it as an advantage.

"I've always been a little bit smaller," he told "But I think it helps my game. I'd rather be 5-7 than 6-4."


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Cammarata said he's learned how to use his size to his advantage, whether it's slipping through traffic in open ice or his ability to come up under bigger players when battling along the wall or in corners.

"I'm harder to hit with my size," he said. "I think it helps me a lot."

Turning a perceived disadvantage into an advantage is one of the qualities O'Handley has found so appealing in Cammarata.

"He's a pretty smart kid and he's figured a lot of it out on his own," the coach said. "We give him an idea here or there, but he's a pretty resourceful young man and a smart young man. I don't mean smart with just his skill. He's smart in general. He's got a very, very good understanding of the game for his age -- all aspects."

And when you add that level of hockey sense to his obvious skills, O'Handley is sure a professional hockey career is there for Cammarata.

"I think he has a brain, and a skill level to go with his brain that is really remarkable," O'Handley said. "I've said it to a number of people -- if he stays on pace, he's going to make a case for himself, even at his size, at the [NHL] level. He's going to force an issue with somebody, as long as he keeps working and getting better, which he will."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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