The stars are continuing to align for highly touted rookie Cam Whynot.
The Halifax Mooseheads knew they were trading for a future star and cornerstone of the organization when they acquired Whynot in preseason trade with the Sherbrooke Phoenix for Xavier Parent.
The can’t miss prospect and offensive minded defender from Kentville, Nova Scotia continues to impress in his first foray in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
One has to look beyond the stat sheet, to fully appreciate the progression Cam Whynot has made this season.
Whynot has handled the pressure and high expectations extremely well for the rebuilding Mooseheads.
Peaks and valleys are fully expected in any rookie campaign especially given the position. A rookie defensemen’s plus/minus will definitely take a hit in their first season in the QMJHL. Nevertheless, through it all Whynot has trusted the process, remained patient and driven to improve.
“Obviously, it’s a really big jump coming from Midget to junior,” confessed Whynot who has 2 goals and 7 assists and -23 rating in 39 games for the rebuilding Herd this season.
From Jared McIsaac, Justin Barron to Benoit Olivier Groulx and many others, the core group of a 2019 Memorial Cup finalist was still intact for Whynot’s first Q experience, which undoubtedly eased his transition into the circuit.
“At the start of the season I had some guys on the team that I really looked up to. They showed me the ropes,” Whynot said proudly.
Whynot continues grow as a player and person and has certainly embraced the journey. The mature and well-spoken kid from the Valley certainly understands his role on the team moving forward.
“So far the adjustment has been good, but it’s been a big one,” confessed Whynot.
“I’m playing my game now and have a bigger role on the team.”
Whynot was a dominant offensive force last season in the Midget AAA ranks. It seemed like everything time he touched the puck, which was on his stick a lot, great things would happen.
One concern some QMJHL scouts had last season was Whynot’s ability to defend and how that would translate to the next level.
To be brutally honest it was hard to fully evaluate and project because the kid had the puck on his stick and was always attacking.
There’s no question Cam Whynot was a step above everyone last season. Nevertheless, the playing field has changed. What aspects did the highly touted prospect work on in the off season to get prepared for the rigours of the Q?
“Coming out of Midget I needed to be a little bit quicker and bigger to keep up with the pace,” admitted Whynot.
“Mostly from what I’ve learned from this season is you have to be way quicker with your decisions with the puck, guys are a lot faster.”
“Once you get the puck on your stick it has to be off of it within a couple of seconds.”
“You don’t have as much time as in Midget. I’m working on playing quick up ice, and working on my offensive game,” explained Whynot.
Composure with the puck in all three zones and taking care of your own zone defensively is a daunting task. In many cases it’s a baptism by fire for most young defencemen, especially the offensive minded ones coming out of the Midget ranks.
“I’m working on walking the line with the puck,” Whynot said.
“It has to be a lot quicker and your shots have to get through a lot quicker as well.”
The work and dedication to the game of hockey is never ending. Whynot is quick to serve up advice to other high profile Midget aged players wanting to make the jump.
“There’s definitely some high end guys coming up. In the summer you have to train really hard and try to get your body in great shape for the season.”
“The season is a lot longer than the Midget season, a lot more intense and it wears on your body,” admitted Whynot.
“I would mostly tell them to come into camp and work their butt off and be confident with the puck,” Whynot said.
“Being confident with the puck is the main thing,” stressed Whynot. “You have to make your decisions quicker, but confidence is a big thing and it comes with time.”
With so much emphasis on offence from the backend in today’s game sometimes young defencemen coming up through the ranks get confused and forget the very essence of the position. Offensive minded puck-moving defencemen still have to defend and play a solid two-way game or they won’t see the ice. So how important is it to be a solid two-way defender?
“Coming out of Midget, I was more offence only,” Whynot said.
“That aspect of my game has certainly turned around this year with my D coach Jon Greenwood.”
“I’ve started playing more PK now. You learn how to have a good stick and your gaps and where to be in the D-Zone so you can support your partner.”
“Jon has taught me a lot this year about the D-Zone. I’m definitely working on the defensive side of the game and it’s been going good so far.”
Every aspiring player needs a mentor and role model, someone to look up, admire and challenge them to be the best they can be. Whynot credits his father and longtime Acadian Axemen Head Coach Darren Burns for being instrumental mentors throughout his journey in the game.
Their impact certainly isn’t lost on the smooth skating slick puck moving defencemen.
“Darren has done so much for me. He has had a crazy influence on my career, he’s great coach,” a reflective Whynot said.
“My dad was right there with me every step of the way as my coach as well,” Whynot said proudly.
What about from a role model perspective or someone Whynot admires?That’s easy, Justin Barron.
“Definitely Justin is one of those guys, it’s hockey, hockey, hockey.”
“He’s so dedicated.”
“Justin really takes care of his body and the way he trains.”
Barron is currently sidelined with a blood clot, nevertheless, Whynot is still amazed with hid dedication to the game.
“He’s training harder than ever so when he comes back, he’s going to be just as effective and as ready as if he played the entire season,” Whynot said.
“I’ve learned a lot from watching his habits.”
“I’ve learned a lot watching him do the little things right on the ice, that aspect has really helped me a lot this year,” stressed Whynot.
The next young Maritime defensive star is on the rise. The sky is the limit for Cam Whynot, but perhaps the most telling aspect in Whynot’s journey so far in the QMJHL is his willingness to learn, adapt and improve. That’s character and that will propel the highly skilled defender as far as he is willing to go in the game.