Dave Cameron, the coach of the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors, said developing his players isn't much different than being a school teacher.
"The whole scenario in our business is we teach," Cameron told NHL.com. "It's no different than teaching in classroom -- we present them the information, and then it's up to them in how they pick it up."
One of Cameron's best students this season was forward Devante Smith-Pelley. The 6-foot, 211-pound right wing tied for the team lead with 62 points this season, and his 29 goals was second.
Smith-Pelley (Mississauga St. Michael's Majors)
NHL Central Scouting has Smith-Pelley at No. 76 in its final ranking of North American skaters for the 2010 Entry Draft.
"He's a solid kid and works hard," Chris Edwards, Central Scouting's OHL scout, told NHL.com. "He gets involved and shows a willingness to battle. He's got a real good shot and can get it off quickly. He gets himself into the slot and has a real good wrist shot. He goes to the net and likes to bang in rebounds, and that's a big part of where you see him scoring his goals from, low slot."
Getting to the dirty areas and continuing to develop as a power forward is where Cameron believes Smith-Pelley's greatest continuing education needs to come.
"He's good down low, below the tops of the circles," Cameron said. "He's got good offensive instincts, he protects the puck well, has good vision, he's a good skater. The part of his game he needs to pick up is his power-forward mentality."
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"Repeat, repeat, repeat and do it again," Cameron said. "Remind, remind, remind; repeat, repeat, repeat, and hope it sinks in."
Smith-Pelley certainly has his sights set high for becoming a power forward at the next level. He said the player he most admires is Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla. As much as his ability to score, Smith-Pelley likes the way Iginla stands up for his teammates.
"A player like Jarome Iginla, for sure," Smith-Pelley told NHL.com. "The way he plays, his work ethic, the way he protects his teammates and can score."
Those teammates certainly enjoy having Smith-Pelley on their team.
"Devante is a terrific teammate," Cameron said. "He's a terrific kid. He comes to the rink in good humor. It's not a chore. He's got a smile on his face. His teammates like to be around him."
They certainly liked to be around him in the playoffs, as Smith-Pelley upped his game to team-leading totals of 8 goals and 14 points in 16 games.
"The pressure is good," Smith-Pelley said. "The pressure brings out everyone's best game. In the end it's just a game, so you've got to go out there and play your game."
That game appears to be heading up. Smith-Pelley earned a spot in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in January, and turned in a fine performance in the fitness testing portion of the May NHL Scouting Combine.
"He's got everything going for him," Cameron said. "It's just a matter now of figuring out what kind of player he's going to be and what kind of player he has to be to get to the next level. If he continues the upward climb, things will be good."