On a U.S. National Team Development Program squad overflowing with talent, Cam York has rightfully emerged as the program’s best defenceman. Possessing high-end processing skills, poise and an incredibly fluid multi-directional skating stride, York makes smart and effective plays in all three zones both with and without the puck.
All told, York has a very projectable game with the only question holding him back from taking the mantle as the lead contender for this draft class’ second best defender becoming one of upside. Regardless, we’re looking at a talented American rearguard whose endearing two-way acumen could make him an intriguing option as early as the tenth overall range.
- Age/Birthdate: 18 / January 5, 2001
- Birthplace: Anaheim Hills, California, USA
- Frame: 5-foot-11 / 176 lbs
- Position: Defence
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: U.S. National Team Development Program
- U17 WHC Gold Medal
- U18 WJC All-Star Team
- U18 WJC Most Assists by Defenseman (6)
- U18 WJC Silver Medal
- U18 WJC All-Star Team
- U18 WJC Best Plus/Minus (+13)
- U18 WJC Bronze Medal
- U18 WJC Most Assists by Defenseman (7)
- U18 WJC Most Goals by Defenseman (4)
- U18 WJC Most Points by Defenseman (11)
- U18 WJC Top 3 Player on Team
2018-19 Stat Rundown
|GP||G||A||P||INV%||5v5 Pr INV%||5v5 ePr60||SEAL||Sh/GP||Sh%||5v5 eTOI||GF%||GF%rel||GD60 rel||XLS%||Top XLS%||XPR|
(Editor’s note on the stats and charts in this article: the U.S. National Team Development Program is a unique program in that its roster plays in several different leagues over the course of the season. Typically, we’ve just used their stats against USHL competition. However, this year their NCAA stats have also been incorporated in some circumstances.
Games played, goals, assists, points and shot data include all U.S. NTDP games. Any data derived from game sheets (involvement percentage, eP60, SEAL data, and on-ice data), as well as any charts that reference “USDP” as the league refer to U.S. NTDP games against both USHL and NCAA competition. pGPS data is based off of USHL games alone.)
York may not ever singlehandedly dominate on the ice or standout to the casual viewer, but he’s perfectly suited to the direction of the modern game with his efficient puck-moving abilities. An extremely mobile and agile skater, York is very calm and poised under forechecking pressure on breakouts — recognizing when to use his feet to twist and turn to create separation and when to make calculated bank passes up the wing or slip feeds down low to the dropping center. He almost always makes the right decision with the puck in large part due to his awareness in knowing where all his options and outlets of support are prior to receiving the puck.
As a strong distributor, York is also capable of making crisp and accurate stretch passes to hit forwards in stride in the neutral zone. Like a lot of the other defenders in this draft class, he doesn’t have the electrifying speed to be a dynamic puck rusher, but it’s not much of a drawback with all the other physical and processing tools at York’s disposal.
York carries the same poised demeanour to the offensive zone, where he’s constantly scanning the ice in an effort to use his passing ability to set his teammates up. From the point, York uses his excellent agility to move east-west while walking the line to open new shooting lanes and passing angles.
It’s rare to see him making flashy offensive plays, but one will certainly appreciate his patience and vision in being able to pass up good looks for even smarter plays such as in the clip below.
Notice how York has a good shooting opportunity from the high slot with traffic in front but is able to draw a defender and create space for a teammate in a more advantageous position. The forward was thwarted on his deke, but had it panned out, that would have been an excellent chance from in tight. In having said that, he was never the focal point of the team’s attack — always preferring to play second fiddle and act as more of a reset option from the blueline than a legitimate offensive threat.
Perhaps York has higher offensive upside that would reveal itself on a team that wasn’t super talented up front, but for now, York’s 65 points in 63 USDP games appear inflated given his skillset and viewings. One area where he could stand to improve is his shot. York tends to prefer snap and wrist shots that stay low to the ice, but not only does it lack quite a bit of power, but his slap shot has surprisingly good velocity and appears underutilized.
Without the puck, he’s most impressive in the neutral zone. York is good at anticipating the opposition’s breakout and consistently breaks plays up by aggressively stepping up in the neutral zone.
Plays like this where York is able to step up and use his stick to regain puck possession for his team seems fairly elementary, but he’s able to disrupt the opposition’s counterattack like this so many times in a given game and it was especially impressive when he’d exhibit the same confidence against collegiate competition.
The same neutral zone acumen carries over in how he defends the rush. York is an exceptional lateral skater who’s actually able to accelerate when using crossovers to dart across the ice when closing gaps. Being a smaller defender, he may not have the longest reach, but his sublime skating gives him great range that translates to York being able to maintain tight gaps while keeping his shoulder square to the puck carrier as he defends in transition.
In the defensive zone, York is certainly at a bit of a disadvantage due to his strength and limited reach, but he displays strong fundamentals in being able funnel plays up the boards and towards the point when defending down low. Moreover, he’s developed an active and effective stick capable of stripping pucks away — an area of his game that will need to see continued growth for him to further develop his defensive ability.
We were not able to assess Cam York through the pGPS metric, as his statistical profile returned no comparable players in the USHL’s relatively brief history as a bona fide NHL feeder.
As expected given the powerhouse national squad he played on, York owned a very strong on-ice goal differential.
What’s more encouraging, however, is that York had a decisively positive boost on his teammates’ ability to control on-ice goals.
Offensively, York’s production is mostly a product of the strength of the team he shared the ice with than remarkable individual abilities. It’s especially important to note context because York spent much of the year on the USDP’s stacked first unit power-play.
When examining his estimated points per hour rate at 5-on-5, you’ll come to realize that it’s actually quite comparable to someone like Marshall Warren’s — significant because the latter had just 34 points in 58 USDP games. All told, I think York’s point totals are quite inflated and misconstrue his offensive ceiling at the NHL level given the skillset he actually brings to the table.
Viewed in totality, York’s efficient game predicated on fluid skating, impressive decision-making, strong puck-moving abilities and decent defensive skills is very projectable and it’s easy to imagine him as a future top-4 defenceman in the NHL. The only reason to give pause on York revolves around upside and trying to establish his ceiling will be the pivotal factor that ultimately determines how high he gets selected in the first round.
Rolling Season Data
Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com, ushl.com and collegehockeyinc.com
Some clips were pulled from original broadcasts, with all rights reserved for the original broadcast companies.
Prospect contributor for NextGen Hockey and Canucks contributor for The Athletic Vancouver. Tracking microstats and focused on combining video and statistical analysis.