The year that was...
Jerry D’Amigo got his first real taste of the National Hockey league last year, but he did so wearing a different shade of blue.
D’Amigo spent most of last season in the American Hockey League with the Toronto Marlies. D’Amigo netted only one goal and three points in 22 games with the Maple Leafs last season, otherwise having a strong 20-goal campaign in 51 contests for the Marlies. He’s a fierce competitor and gifted penalty killer, which he perhaps exhibited best during the World Junior Championships with Team USA’s gold medal winning team in 2010.
D’Amigo was dealt to the Blue Jackets on July 1 in exchange for Matt Frattin, giving the Blue Jackets a player three years younger and who they feel has a better chance of making their lineup out of training camp.
D’Amigo will have the chance to prove himself as a solid addition to the Blue Jackets’ bottom six, a player who can provide energy on the forecheck and be a solid penalty killer if his number is called. And with the Jackets’ fourth line not-so-settled heading into camp, the opportunity is ripe for the 23-year-old Binghamton, N.Y. native.
|Click the photo above for Jerry D'Amigo's "season in photos" album. |
Where is he now?
D’Amigo finds himself at a crucial juncture in his career. He was a late round pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, but opened eyes with a terrific World Junior tournament the following year, coupled with nearly a point-per-game pace in his first season at Division I (NCAA) RPI. With those raised expectations of a Ryan Callahan-like game, D’Amigo has been a point producer at the minor leagues but hasn’t been able to translate that to the NHL level. He’ll need to lift his game one more time to make the difference between a very good career minor leaguer and a regular NHL player.
This is an important camp for D’Amigo. He has a fresh start with a new organization, one with a fourth line that is somewhat in flux.
The murky picture on the fourth line is more a product of too many options than too few. Mark Letestu would need to play his way out of a job, and newly-acquired Brian Gibbons was outstanding in his first NHL work with the Penguins last season. D’Amigo will likely compete directly with Jared Boll and Simon Hjalmarsson. Hjalmarsson had a line of 27-30-57 in 55 games last year in the Swedish Elite League.
D’Amigo’s first chance to impress Blue Jackets management comes in short order, as training camp opens in a week and the team’s first preseason game is Sep. 21 against the St. Louis Blues.
First impressions are important in a new town, and D’Amigo needs to make a good one in September.