2015-16 Team: North Bay Battalion
Hometown: Toms River, NJ
Only one player from outside of the top 100 in the midterm rankings jumped into the top 60 of the final release of the 2016 NHL Central Scouting Draft Rankings. That honor belongs to North Bay Battalion defenseman Cameron Dineen, a former Yale recruit from Toms River, NJ.
Dineen was 39th in the final rankings after sitting at 117th just a few months ago. While NHL Central Scouting isn't the end-all, be-all, it is a fairly good indicator of where prospects will be taken in the upcoming NHL Draft. An alum of the New Jersey Rockets youth program, Dineen had 13 goals and 46 assists in 68 games played this season for the Battalion.
While this observer didn't see Dineen during the OHL season, he did impress at last summer's USA Hockey Select 17 Player Development Camp and at the previous summer's Select 16s. He was easily one on the top two to three defensemen in both camps. His solid play at Select 17s earned him a spot on the U.S. roster for the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
Dineen is a dynamite skater that can impact the game in all three zones. His skating stride is very smooth and crisp. He has outstanding vision, makes good breakout passes, can skate the puck out of the zone and reads plays well. He has good footwork, walks the line on the power play and distributes the puck with precision.
While the offensive part of his game is what will get the most recognition, and rightfully so, he has gotten better in his own zone. While he will never be a bruising, stay-at-home defender, he skates well enough to recover and contain opposing players. He skates fast enough backwards to force oncoming forwards to the perimeter. He has an equally strong stick to break up plays and is willing to get in the shooting and passing lanes.
While Dineen has always been a pretty skater with good offensive instincts, there was a certain growth to his game at Select 17s that was apparent. He's put up on some bulk and matured in how he plays the game. While he is an inch shorter, a good current NHL player to compare Dineen to is New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy.
Draft Projection: Dineen will likely go towards the end of the second round or early in the third. His skating and offensive upside will be very intriguing to NHL organizations picking in the 50s-60s.