While he started his draft season in Europe like many of his peers, Taylor Cammarata didn’t do so at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial.
Instead, Cammarata did so at the 2012 World Junior Club Cup, featuring his Waterloo Black Hawks, the Sudbury Wolves and eight European-based junior clubs. The Black Hawks, a USHL based club, served as runner-ups to the OHL’s Wolves.
Though the Plymouth, MN product would’ve liked to play in both events, playing in back-to-back events in Europe to start his season wasn’t a feasible schedule.
“I had a lot of good buddies on the (Hlinka) team but when it came down to it, it was just too much,” the five-foot-seven forward said. “I would have been in Europe for a whole month playing close to 20 games before the real season even started, but playing in Russia was a fun experience. Saw a lot of cool places and different styles of play.”
Gauging himself against a Canadian Hockey League team was an experience all its own for Cammarata, who opted to take the college route over the WHL and was the first overall pick in the 2010 USHL Futures Draft.
“I enjoyed the game,” he said. “Sudbury played a defensive NHL style and you could tell they were well coached.”
The game and competition didn’t make Cammarata question his route.
“I know what a great league the WHL is but with my style and stature I feel like college would benefit me more,” the University of Minnesota commit suggested.
Dan Shrader agreed.
“College will be a good route for him.” said the Future Considerations’ USHL-based scout. “Granted, he’s been playing against bigger, older competition already, but I’m always a fan of having players going up against stronger, more mature competition. You really get a sense of how bad a player who is in his teenage years really ‘wants it’ as he goes into corners with 21, 22, 23-year-olds.”
How has being the first overall pick into the USHL helped prepare you for your NHL draft season?
Going through the futures draft process kind of gives me an idea of what it’s going to be like, just on a lot bigger stage this year. The NHL is the best hockey league in the world. There are people making opinions everyday that lead to the draft so you always have to be on your game.
Have you set out any expectations for the NHL Draft?
It’s been my dream my whole life to get drafted but whatever happens hockey will still be there the next day. There are first round picks playing in the NHL, there are 7th round picks playing in the NHL and there are undrafted players in the NHL. I’m just going to focus on having a great year and hopefully getting back to the finals again, and just let everything else fall in place.
Are your expectations for the NHL Draft heightened after being the 1st overall pick into the USHL and earning ‘Rookie of the Year’ honors?
Yes I believe being drafted 1st in the futures draft gave me a lot of confidence and also a lot of pressure for my first year of juniors, but I enjoyed the pressure. We had a great group of guys that made it all the way to the finals. They encouraged me and treated me like a go-to player.
You played at Shattuck with Nathan MacKinnon. What sort of relationship do you share now? Have you stayed in touch with him since? Do you chat with him about the NHL Draft at all?
Nate and I still talk a lot. We roomed right across the hall from each other our first year at Shattuck so we became pretty close. We were really competitive at school in everything hockey, basketball, ping pong, pool. He was a fun player to watch and play with. We still talk hockey and about different players we like.
Is it easier going through your draft year having another highly rated prospect in Ian McCosham to share it with?
Yes I believe so, Ian and I have known each other for a while and we both have very high expectations for ourselves. We roomed together last year and we often critique ourselves to become better players.
Does having teammate Zach Stepan, who went through the draft process last year, help in knowing what to expect?
Yes, I’ve known Zach for a while also. He works hard which is something I take from him. I followed him last year and through the draft.
Is there increased pressure knowing the scouts are watching game-in, game-out?
Not really. I feel like scouts my whole life have had their questions about me and my size. Being a smaller guy you really have to play great every game, while if you were bigger you could take a game off so to speak. I just play my hardest every game and try to show them what my game is all about.