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The Edmonton Oilers Prospect Report: Cam Dineen’s 2022-23 Season Review

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Bruce Curlock
9 months ago
This week we continue our season reviews with players that are on the bubble of whether they should be considered prospects.
Cam Dineen came to the Oilers organization as part of the Nick Bjugstad trade, a deal that saw the departure of a very good prospect in Michael Kesselring left the Condors short-staffed on defence. The addition of Dineen helped the Condors at a position that had been weakened by having both Vincent Desharnais and Philp Broberg playing with the big club. Dineen, who has AHL career totals of 20-82-102 in 226 games, was able to help fill that gap for the Condors last season and earned a one-year, two-way contract with the Oilers organization this coming season.
The question, much like James Hamblin last week, is whether Cam Dineen can do enough this season with the Condors to still be considered an NHL calibre prospect. Let’s see how he looked last season for clues to this question.

What I Saw Last Season

First, and foremost, it should be noted that Dineen has played NHL games. The 3rd round pick of the Coyotes in the 2016 NHL draft played 34 games in the 2021-22 season tallying seven assists for Arizona. His fancy stats were all sub 50% in terms of Corsi For, Shot Share and Expected Goals For, but that is probably as much to do with the Arizona Coyotes as it was with Dineen. This past season was spent all in the AHL. He had 4-31-35 in 50 games with the Arizona AHL team in Tuscon and added 2-10-12 in 19 games after coming to Bakersfield. His game is offence focused and he is pretty good at it. However, it is his defensive game that will make or break Cam Dineen’s journey to the NHL.

The Offensive Package

Let’s start with what got Dineen drafted into the NHL. His offensive skills are very good for a defenceman. Watch this play prior to the trade that tells us a lot about these skills. The clip is a powerplay opportunity for his team. Watch first how Dineen can handle a hard rim on his weakside comfortably.
He turns his body to handle the puck and then when is pressured, he calmly makes a short pass to his teammate under control. The play finishes with Dineen getting a return pass and sending a great puck to the net front for a deflection and a goal.

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This little clip tells you a lot about Cam Dineen. His hands are very good and his lateral footwork is also impressive. Most importantly, he handles the puck with great composure despite the pressure.
The other element of his game that is certainly NHL-level is his skating. Here is a great reference clip of his abilities against the Condors. His first couple of steps are very strong and he separates from his check quite easily off almost a standing start. The stride itself is very compact and powerful. The skates stay close to the ice and return the center quickly. His ankle, knee and hip bend is all textbook while his upper body has a nice forward lean to it and his arms stay very calm in his stride. It is a very smooth stride.
When he comes into contact later in this play, despite his size, he wins the battle and carries on with the puck to make a great net-front pass for a goal.

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Here is another great example of how effortlessly Dineen moves up the ice both with and without the puck. Good strong body position in case he is attacked by a defender. Nice chest-up work to allow for all ice scanning to see the opportunities and the threats. Finishes with a really nice wrist shot.

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Why Was He A Third Round Pick?

With the offensive capability, there is no question, Dineen would have been a higher pick, but for one thing: his size. He’s 5’11” and 189 pounds. Unfortunately, he combines his smaller stature with a less-than-robust game when he does not have the puck. Here is a classic example of what you see with Dineen.

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Puck watches himself into a poor spot. Then adds to that by being very soft on the check. Finally, he stops and stands in the corner failing to head back to the net front which is certainly his responsibility.
Here is another clip prior to the trade that gave me pause. Tyler Benson is not Patrick Maroon. Yet, Dineen just let him slide to the net for an easy open net tap-in.

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This happens pretty consistently each game. Here is a Condors clip where Dineen is on a retrieval. He starts by being unwilling to absorb a hit and see what comes of it.
Instead, the puck is thrown weakly and blinding to the far side. Dineen then gets into a wall battle where he allows the puck carrier to get between him and the net. Finally, Dineen does a poor job of net-front work allowing the opposing player to post up and take the goalie’s eyes away.

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Dineen’s best defending comes from using his feet which are his best strength. Here is a great example of his posted-up-in-a-zone look. He reads the loose puck and his skating allows him to get to the puck first and then exit with control.

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This will likely be his key in defending the puck. Using his feet because his size and nature work against him for the most part. Watch the very passive way he manages the zone and his checks. He allows a lot of zone time by not attempting to disrupt the puck carrier’s possession.

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What’s All Mean?

Never give up on a prospect. Never do it. Until he decides enough is enough. That applies to Cam Dineen. His skating is NHL calibre, no question. It can take him places. However, he needs to find some strength in his game and some bite, but both are not monumental tasks. They are in Cam Dineen’s control.
No question that the left side of the Oilers defence group is stacked up pretty good. However, as we saw with the right side, it can open up very quickly. Cam Dineen just needs to be read if it happens.
That’s it for this week folks. Same bat time and same bat place next week!

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