Diamond In the Rough?

By Sean Speer

With the their third pick of the 2001 NHL draft, the LA Kings selected
University of Michigan center Mike Cammalleri. Drafting Cammalleri 49th
overall is a really credit to the Kings scouting staff and Dave Taylor.
According to the Hockey News (October 31, 2001), Mark Bavis, KIngs scout who
was killed aboard one of the planes that crashed into the Trade Centers on
September 11, campaigned for Cammallerri, as well as, Ohio State forward,
David Steckel, the Kings 2nd pick. It is truly unfortunate that Bavis will
be unable to see Cammallerri succeed in the NHL because I am fairly confident he will.

It is hard to believe he is already in his junior year. It seems like only
yesterday I witnessed Mike take the Ontario Peewee Championships by storm,
as he nonchalantly smashed the tournament record for points. After that
week, I felt obligated to track his career because I believed, exactly what
many people believed after watching him; we had just saw a player who had a
future in the game.

Cammelleri continued through the Toronto Minor system and then easily
adapted to Tier 2 with the Bramlea Blues. In his rookie year, he recorded
103 points and helped lead his team to the Royal Bank Cup. Following that
year, he received a full scholarship to the NCAA most storied hockey
program, U. of Michigan. And to date he has not disappointed.

In his freshmen year, he recorded a respectable 26 points, which was
reasonable considering he was the youngest player in the CCHA by a full
year. Last in his sophomore year, he was forced to take an extended role due
to the loss of team catalyist Mike Comrie, and Cammallerri once again
adapted quite easily. As an 18 year old sophomre, Cammalleri picked up 61
points and unquestionably became the team’s go-to-guy and an immediate Hobey
Baker canditate for this season.

Unfortunately, things have not gone as great this season for the Wolverines.
They have a fairly young team, but according to Cammalleri, now assistant
captain, that is no excuse. “Youth doesn’t factor in for us. We are tired of
being called a young team”. He leads the team in scoring with 9 points in 7
games, and has played well. However, the other teams have been able
to really key on him because the Wolverines lack the depth the have
traditionally been known for.

The Kings have themselves an excellent prospect who has moved up along the
ranks and meet each new level with success. He is hard working, consistent
and is a good person. When you are a smaller player, these
personality traits are keys for success, which is exactly the path he is on.
Can’t wait to see him again in the WJC!