Prospect Deep Dive: Cam York

by Tony Ferrari on June 4, 2019

 

Hockey Card Stats

Name: Cam York

Club Team: USNTDP (USHL)

Position: D

D.O.B: January 5th, 2001

Nationality (Place of Birth): American (Anaheim Hills, CA, USA)

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 176lbs

Shoots: L

Fun fact: Cam York is a big fan of the Kardashians. I can’t confirm that he’s never missed an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashian’s but this is on his NTDP player page.

 

Ranked #17 by CAM ROBINSON’S April Rankings

Ranked #13 by HOCKEYPROSPECT.COM

Ranked #14 by FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS

Ranked #11 by ISS HOCKEY

Ranked #15 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY

Ranked #12 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)

Ranked #20 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM

Ranked #15 by TSN/McKenzie

 

Scouting Report

Skating and Transition

York is a fluid skater who has good technical stride. He doesn’t possess the highest top-end speed, but he does an excellent job getting up to speed and working off his edges. He does a good job skating himself out of trouble with the puck on his stick. He has the ability to change directions both north-south and east-west. The top USNTDP blue-liner was a solid player in transition. Preferring to defer to his high-skill teammate, he puts crisp passes right on the tape of the low forward to transition the puck out of the defensive end. Despite the tendency to allow his teammates to do the work through the middle of the ice, he was very fluid when he decided to break the puck out himself through the neutral zone. A strong skater with good balance, he doesn’t lose the puck when pressured by opposing teams. He stays very poised when both exiting and entering the zone.

 

 

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The video above shows York realize he had a forward coming high to cover him, skating in from the point to retrieve a loose puck before faking a shot and making a play towards the front of the net. Once the pass is made and York transitions back towards the blue line. Once there he finds space and receives a pass back to the point, one-touch passing it to a forward at the top of the circle of the opposite side of the ice for a scoring chance and goal. This is the type of reliable and responsible play that York provides when he uses his high-end hockey IQ to make decisions on when to be aggressive in moments that allow for it.  

 

Everything that makes York a good player comes from his solid base. His ability to pivot and change direction with speed and efficiency is among the best of the rear guards in the draft. He has an advanced hockey IQ which allows him the ability to jump into a play or pinch from the point without finding himself out of position for the most part. When he does get caught too deep in the offensive zone, he is able to pivot and accelerate to get back into the play. He does a good job at pressuring from behind when the forward does get behind him on occasion. His extremely mature way of thinking the game allows him to adapt his game to what unfolds in the play at hand.

 

Play in the Offensive Zone

Cam York’s offensive game is adaptable. His elite ability to think the game allows him to read the play and make the proper play to ensure that the puck continues moving in the right direction. His passing is excellent and he is able to pace the pass appropriately in order to put the puck on his teammates stick while at top speed without issue. He does a good job moving the puck in the right direction and looks for the most aggressive play that won’t result in a turnover. Refusing to force passes that aren’t there, rather he makes the pass that is available. When the stretch pass is available, York is able to send a crisp pass to the forward. In the video below, York goes back to retrieve the puck in his own zone. Once the puck is on his stick he immediately recognizes the broken coverage and does an excellent job at putting the puck on the forwards stick, leading to a dangerous scoring chance and a goal.

 

 

When in the offensive zone, York does an excellent job at using his smooth skating to effectively patrol the blue line. He floats down the wall when he recognizes the puck coming around the boards and he is able to capably contain the puck and make an effective pass back into the zone. When at five-on-five, he doesn’t use his shot much, often settling for a strong pass deeper into the zone to keep the puck in a dangerous area. When he does shoot the puck, it’s often a well-placed wrist or snap-shot in order to create a rebound or tip opportunity for the forwards down-low. When he gets the puck at the point he doesn’t have a hesitancy to take advantage of an open lane. Below you can see York get the puck at the point and drives to the circles drawing both the attention of the defenders and goaltender before threading a pass across the slot to set up the goal.

 

 

As a power play quarterback, York is an excellent facilitator. He keeps his feet moving and travels across the blue line to allow for a safety valve for the forwards on the half walls. York’s understanding of dangerous scoring chances means he often defers to teammates in the slot and down low. In order to get the puck to those dangerous areas on the ice, York uses a variety of methods including both passing and shooting. While his passing is evidently his greatest strength in the offensive zone outside of his IQ, he does a good job at shooting the puck for rebounds when shooting from a distance. When the reliable American defender gets the puck in the high slot, his mindset is much more dangerous. He knows that he is in a dangerous position and takes advantage by locating his shot around screens and into the corners of the net. In the video below, he does an excellent job on the power play by coming from down low in the zone, moving towards the center at the point for a pass. When he gets the pass, he realizes he has space, moves towards to top of the slot, allowing a screen to develop in front of the goaltender before firing a perfectly placed shot for a goal.

 

 

Play in the Defensive Zone

Defensively reliable and responsible, York has a great stick and uses it to break up oncoming rushes at the blue line before the attack is able to penetrate deep into the zone. A better defender off the rush than within a sustained setup, the young American uses his ability to fluidly change directions staying in front of attacking players. York doesn’t engage physically because he lacks the upper body strength to pin opponents against the boards but he’s efficient with using his stick to disrupt the puck on his opponents stick. Once the puck is knocked loose he is able to consistently recover the puck and find an outlet.

 

The fact that York doesn’t take the body as often as some defenders mean he can often move the puck up the ice because he isn’t putting himself out of position. Exiting the zone with a high rate of success both with his agile skating or a smart pass. Able to take advantage of the opposing team making a line change or not setting their defensive structure, York is adept at getting the puck from his defensive zone to the offensive zone. In the video below it shows York patiently waiting for the play to develop in front of him before firing a beautiful pass to the forward waiting at the opposing blue line.

 

 

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When in his own zone for extended periods of time, York can get outmuscled at times. His strength should continue to develop over the next few years, but at the moment he struggles in the corners and along the boards. Thankfully he doesn’t find himself in those situations very often because of his high success rate at defending zone entries and stopping plays with a solid poke check and recovery.

 

Year in Review

Season with the USNDTP

Coming into the season, York was known for his offensive prowess and maturity with the puck on his stick. Knowing that maturing defensively would be his biggest task for the season, York began to work on his defensive positioning. Understanding his own strengths and weaknesses, York knew that physically engaging opponents wouldn’t produce the results that he was looking for. Instead, York began to develop his stick work and angling technique. He was able to play the opportunistic offensive game that he’s always thrived at as well as growing and maturing defensively.

 

 

Beginning the season with 10 points in his first ten games, York was cementing his place as the top rearguard on the U18 USNDTP. His ability to facilitate the play and allow his high-skilled forwards to make the dynamic plays that led to scoring chances. As the top defender on the team, York played in all situations. His role on the power play was to consistently filter the play towards the half walls where players like Jack Hughes or Trevor Zegras set up to allow them to make plays. Being able to willfully defer to some of the most elite play-makers in the draft class wasn’t a factor of York not being confident in his own game, but it was the ability to recognize that the play would develop more dangerously from a better position. As the season wore on, his focus shifted towards playing a reliable and solid two-way game.

 

As the new year came and went, York continues to have success at both ends of the ice. In a mid-January game against the Youngstown Phantoms, York put on an absolute clinic. Putting up three goals and four assists, York set a USHL record for points in a game. At one point he was given another assist and then it was taken away again which would have been an outrageous eight-point night for the defender who had just become an 18-year-old ten days prior. The video below shows all seven points that York was credited with during the game against Youngstown. As can be seen in the video, York uses a variety of methods to create offence. From pinching down low into the zone to creating chances in front of the net by shooting for tips and rebounds, York’s full arsenal of offensive tools was on display.

 

 

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Showing up against NCAA Competition

One of the most impressive things about York’s year was his performance against NCAA competition. In 16 games against the collegiate level York performed quite well, with seven points. In the defensive zone, York excelled and proved that despite his size not being quite ideal for a blue-liner, he was able to handle larger opponents. The fact that York plays an intellectual game defensively, using his smooth skating and strong stick, rather than choosing to throw his body around at all times is the primary reason for his ability to succeed. A reason for optimism in his performance in the games against NCAA competition is that he played well against them as a 17-year-old for 13 of the 16 games. Although this doesn’t seem like a huge deal, at this stage of a players development the difference that a few months have on a players development can be extremely large.

 

While he wasn’t without his faults, including a game against the University of Minnesota early in the season. While not a complete stat, nevertheless, York was a -4 and seemed to be intimidated by the size and speed of a very good University of Minnesota squad. The game didn’t go well for the defender who was clearly still learning and adjusting to playing against players a few years older and more physically mature than he was. Working through this game was a learning experience for the developing two-way blue-liner. As the season progressed, York did an excellent job at developing the defensive side of the game, using the games against the

more mature NCAA competition as a gauge for how his development was progressing. By season’s end, York wasn’t merely competing against collegiate opponents, rather he was pushing the pace of play and holding strong defensively.

 

All-Star Performance at the U18 World Championships

Despite not winning the “Defenceman of the Tournament” award, losing out to Philip Broberg of Sweden, and settling as one of two tournament all-stars on the backend. York was arguably the best blue-liner at the U18 World Championships leading defenders in scoring by a wide margin. York was a force at both ends of the ice. Scoring at least a point in every game of the tournament, York racked up four goals and seven assists for 11 points in just seven games. York’s outstanding performance helped teammates and frequent power play companions, Jack Hughes and Cole Caufield, to tournament and team records.

Photo courtesy of USA Hockey

 

As the tournament progressed, York took more and more control of each game. Defensively he was stout and offensively he was efficient. Despite the loaded American team running into a hot goaltender in 16-year-old Yaroslavl Askarov of Russia in the semifinals, York helped the US U18 team to a dominating tournament. Blowing out almost every opponent, seemingly owning the puck at all times, York was a major catalyst in the U18 World Championships.

 

Saving his best for last, as you can see in the video below, York recorded a two-goal, three-point night in the bronze medal game against the rival Canadians. York was a force to cap off the U18 tournament. Defensively he displayed an excellent closing ability, playing tight gaps and cutting off plays at the blue-line before they could enter the zone. Offensively, York uses his skating ability and excellent vision to take advantage of deficiencies in the Canadian defensive zone coverage.

 

 

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On York’s assist, he jumps into the rush as the fourth attacked and does an excellent job executing a give-and-go with American captain Jack Hughes. In the second period, Hughes returns the favour. Noticing York creeping down into the faceoff circle, Hughes puts a pass on a tee for York to show off his one-timer to the back of the net. To finish off his outstanding tournament, York adds another in the power play from a creative pass from Trevor Zegras. York steps into the drop pass and fires home a shot from the top of the high slot. York capped off his record-breaking tournament with an outstanding performance in a big spot, showing that he is one of the premier players on the back-end available in this year’s NHL Entry Draft.

 

Conclusion and Draft

Coming into the season as the number one defenceman on possibly the best U18 USNTDP team ever, York was expected to have a good year. The development of York’s two-way ability this season helped power this stacked U18 team to a very good season. York did an outstanding job understanding where his development needed to focus and did just that. Improving defensively by leaps and bounds, he understood where his limitations were (physical play), developing good gap control and containing and controlling the puck before it enters his zone.

 

His transition game has been a strong point of his game, utilizing an accurate and crisp pass to move the puck in a positive direction. He did an excellent job facilitating the puck at both five-on-five and with the man advantage. Understanding where the dangerous scoring chances come from and ensuring that the puck flows to those areas. In the offensive zone, the reliable blue-liner does an excellent job picking his spots. Understanding when he has support form the high forward in the offensive end, York is able to glide deep into the zone drawing defenders towards him and then using his outstanding vision to find forwards on the back-side or in the slot for high-danger scoring chances.

 

Overall, Cam York is one of the best young defenders in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and warrants a selection in the first round, likely in the top half of the draft. The best blue-liner from the USNDTP put together a solid season in which he set the record for most points by a defenceman in a single season with 65 points, surpassing Adam Fox’s 59 points. He set the record for points in a game by a USNDTP player with his seven-point performance against Youngstown. Whichever team makes the selection of York will insert a reliable, two-way defender with high offensive upside and an extremely smart style of play into their prospect pipeline and be better for it.

 

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Thank you for taking the deep dive on one of the most productive blue-liners in this upcoming draft, Cam York. Come back soon for more draft prospect deep dives from the Dobber Prospects team! Leave comments below and you can always reach out to me personally on twitter at @TheTonyFerrari!