Coming in at number six on our countdown is 24-year-old Dani Cameranesi. After a stellar 2018-19 campaign, both professionally and internationally, Cameranesi is quickly becoming one of the biggest stars in the game.
After establishing herself as a bona fide star at the University of Minnesota, Cameranesi put up five points in five games at the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018. Then, she became one of the most heralded free agents in the NWHL by signing with the Buffalo Beauts. She followed through with a dynamite season, tallying four goals and 11 assists in 14 regular season games with five multi-point performances. She tacked on a goal and two assists in two Isobel Cup Playoff games as one of the key drivers of offense.
As if that weren’t enough, Cameranesi continued her success at the 2019 World Championship, collecting three goals and four assists in seven games. No matter the venue in 2018-19, DaniCam was a point-per-game player.
Cameranesi is already one of the leaders of the USWNT at the young age of 24. She’s a dominant scorer, she’s been used as a television personality on the NHL Network, and there’s no sign of slowing down. We could be looking at the next icon of American women’s hockey if she continues on this torrid pace.
How is she able to be so successful? With silky smooth mitts in close. Observe:
In one easy move, Cameranesi pulls the puck away from the younger less-experienced Canadian defender Micah Zandee-Hart and uses her reach to slide the puck exactly where Hilary Knight needs it to bury the goal. It’s a seemingly simple move, but expertly executed.
The Beauts have opened it up a bit here in the 2nd, and it's Dani Cameranesi making things happen. First driving wide to create a rebound that Maddie Elia cashes, then scooping a loose puck and taking it all the way herself before going top cheese on Burt. 3-1 BUF, mid 2nd. @WGRZ pic.twitter.com/Yfb2zR6fhW— J.T. Messinger (@JTMessinger) January 26, 2019
Driving the net has of course always been Cameranesi’s bread and butter. Time and time again, she will use her strength and her speed to barrel towards the blue paint and wreak havoc on opposing netminders. In this case, it’s Boston’s Katie Burt bearing the brunt of her offensive assault.
Notice in the two goals in the above tweet how Cameranesi rattles the defense with the myriad of options at her disposal. In the first goal, she gains the inside from the boards against a solid defender in Mallory Souliotis. She bangs the puck point-blank off Burt’s pillows, leaving a scrumptious rebound for linemate Maddie Elia to pick up.
In the second goal, Lexi Bender seemingly does the right thing. She hedges off the puck-carrier, plays the middle of the ice and directs traffic to clog the passing lane so Kelly Babstock is unable to receive a one-time feed. It’s a good plan in theory, but we’re dealing with Dani Cameranesi here. Give her a modicum of space and she’ll make you pay with a lethally quick and accurate wrister. Top shelf, where mama hides the cookies.
Is this ranking too high or too low?
Cameranesi is one of the most versatile offensive weapons in the game today with the ability to pass, shoot and skate. Not only does she have the talent, she would have an impressive resume for someone five years her elder.
My assertion? Cameranesi is about three spots too low. After coming in at number six last year and tearing up the world the way she did, it stands to reason that she deserves to rise in the rankings. But it’s hard to disrespect a number six finish, and with the powerhouse names that comprise the top five, there are no wrong answers here.
Regardless of rank, we have ourselves a genuine American superstar on our hands with as bright a future as anyone in hockey, period.