He isn’t considered to be an early pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, but Denis Kamaev could very well be a steal on draft day.
The ultra-skilled winger had an outstanding rookie campaign in the QMJHL, putting up 55 points, on 21 goals and 34 assists in 67 games, and was one of the most consistent performers for his Rouyn-Noranda Huskies club. Those totals sat him eighth overall in scoring among first year players in the QMJHL, and third overall on his team.
Kamaev also represented Russia at the recent 2012 World U18’s, scoring a goal and two assists in six games, while finishing with a plus-2 rating. Last season, the dynamic forward notched nine goals and 22 points in 44 games while playing with the MHL Champion CSKA-Krasnaja Armija Moskva. He is a really special player and his offensive game reminds a lot of Pavel Datsyuk in his ability to create on the rush and utilize his deceptive speed and hands.
The five-foot-11, 180-pound Kamaev’s vision and hockey sense is remarkable, his shot is underrated, and his playmaking attributes alone are some of the best I’ve seen among this years draft crop, as he makes his linemates better with the way he can create open ice and dish the puck. The sky is the limit when talking about how good the 18-year-old could be at the next level. He simply loves to play the game of hockey, and like most gifted players, truly loves to be a difference maker on the ice.
I had the chance to catch up with the well-spoken, very likeable Denis Kamaev, for a quick Q and A.
Who has been your biggest help and influence in developing your game?
Denis: My parents helped me a lot, and it was my personal initiative to just be the best I could be. I started playing hockey at 6-years-old in the city of Izhevsk, and have worked hard to get to this point.
You are a very crafty forward, that possesses good speed and nice hands, what do you see being your best attrbutes as a hockey player?
Denis: I like skills, I’m not a physical player, so It s a hard for me to play power hockey. I can make a good pass, beat a defender and I have good speed.
What was your ‘welcome moment’ to the QMJHL?
Denis: I remember the first game in the QMJHL. We won against Shawinigan, that were one of the best teams the league. It was a very positive thing, but I didn’t play very well, maybe because I was nervous.
Is there and NHLer you mold your game after?
Denis: My favourite player is Sidney Crosby, and try to model a little bit of my game after him.
You’ve scored a ton of goals over your young career at every level, is there one that stands out as your biggest?
Denis: I think this is a goal against Team Finland at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament. We played a match for the bronze medal. In the second period, I beat most of the four players and scored a goal. I will never forget that one!
What is the highlight of your career thus far?
Denis: When I became the champion of MHL in my first season in this league. It was a hard and long season, and we deserved to win. And, of course a victory in the Junior Olympic Festival with Team Russia. In the finals we beat Finland 2-1.
You made the transition to the North American game look flawless, what was the hardest part to adjust to coming over to play with Rouyn-Noranda?
Denis: It was a very hard season in North America. In Canada, hockey is played different, more shots, and more physical. At first it was very hard to readjust. Of course the NHL Draft was one of my objectives for this season, and I would like to be selected by an NHL team.
I know it’s an honor in itself to be drafted, but if you could pick the NHL team that selected you, who would you choose?
Denis: I don’t know, probably Chicago or Pittsburgh, but it be a dream come true to just be selected.
If you could describe yourself to NHL scouts in one word, what would it be?
What do you enjoy doing in your downtime from the game?
Denis: When I’m not playing hockey I usually will check the internet, chat with friends, or watch movies.
Any hidden talents?
Denis: I do not know, I’m focusing on hockey, but I am a good student in school.