It was a tremendously disappointing season in 2011-12 for the Anaheim Ducks. After such an impressive run late in 2010-11 to power them to a playoff position, they looked like a team on the rise. A dreadful start was too much to overcome though, and many of the Ducks top stars were the subject of constant trade rumours. One name that seems to be untouchable in Anaheim, however, is that of Cam Fowler.
The smooth skating American defenseman is a great puck-mover, and at just 20 years of age, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his talent. Many people felt the Ducks caught a major break when Fowler fell all the way down to 12th overall in the 2010 Draft. In fact, the team was so impressed with his abilities that they opted not to send him back to junior, and put him in their lineup as an 18-year-old.
Fowler’s offensive skills were on full display for the US National Development Program and for the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League. In his one and only year with the Spitfires in 2009-10, he scored 55 points in 55 games. Not bad for a defenseman. Of course it didn’t hurt playing with the likes of Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, and Ryan Ellis.
Despite turning pro before he was legally able to drink, the Ducks haven’t been shy about playing him in key situations. He finished second on the squad last year in average ice-time per game.
Not only that, but he finished second on the team in power play ice-time as well. This helped Fowler get over a third of his points (11) with the man advantage. If this keeps up he could very well become a power play specialist for poolies.
Although his ice-time increased, the troubling thing for Fowler owners is that his production decreased from his rookie to sophomore season. In his first campaign he recorded 40 points, but this year he only posted 29. Some of that can be attributed to the Ducks struggles as a whole or perhaps just the ever popular sophomore slump.
While the drop in points is slightly concerning, poolies should be more worried about Fowler’s plus/minus. He was a team worst by a landslide last season with a minus-28, and his total was twice as much as the next closest Duck. Fowler is now a career minus-53 in just two years.
While plus/minus alone isn’t necessarily enough on its own for poolies to steer clear of him, if Fowler keeps it up it could lead to other problems. For instance, how long do you think he will continue to receive the sort of ice-time he has been getting if he is that much of a liability in his own end? Combine that with an 11 point drop off and all of a sudden Fowler doesn’t look as appealing to coach Bruce Boudreau. His playing time gets reduced and all of sudden his production begins to drop.
Even with these potential issues, he currently provides other things that can help owners out in the short-term. I’m not saying his shot and block totals were anything to write home about in 2011-12, but he did have 123 and 94 respectively. Averaging well over one of each a game is nothing to sneeze at.
Fowler is certainly more valuable in keeper leagues at the moment. Being rushed into the NHL and not spending any time in the AHL looks to be starting to show. With his skill set and potential though, he looks like he has the ability to be a steady offensive defenseman for years to come. It’s just going to take some patience. The only question for poolies is, how long are they willing to wait?