LOS ANGELES -- The Anaheim Ducks were so stunned Cam Fowler slipped all the way down to the 12th overall pick in the NHL Draft on Friday, they didn't have a nameplate for the jersey for the highly-rated defenseman.
The Ducks were so ill-prepared for the stunning fall of Fowler -- expected to be a sure-bet in the top five selections -- they did not even request an interview with him at the NHL Draft Combine. All the Combine would have taken was 12 minutes of Anaheim's scouting staff's time.
Still, you can't blame them when, after an astounding 11 teams passed on the puck-moving defenseman of the Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires, the Ducks pounced on Fowler.
The 18-year-old Fowler, who also won a gold medal with Team USA at the World Junior Championships, walked on the stage at Staples Center and was handed a jersey by retired Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer.
"He said, 'Congratulations' ... or something like that," said a clearly relieved Fowler. "I thought, 'Wow, that's Scott Niedermayer' and kind of blacked out the rest. That was such an honor for me to go up on that stage and shake his hand. He's someone that I've followed since I was a young, and someone I try to pattern my game after."
All in all, Fowler is convinced it was worth the wait.
At a press conference showcasing 10 of the game's top draft prospects, Fowler said on more than one occasion, "With some drafts you never know" and "There have been drafts when the unexpected happens." It sounded like the defenseman was prepared for the possibility of a fall, but no way could he have expected a nose-dive all the way to 12. He became the NHL's answer to Brady Quinn. Now it's on the kid to channel any frustration in the right direction.
"I'll use it as motivation," said Fowler, who believes he could win an NHL job out of training camp. "I wish I could start playing right now."