Quick, think of a talented young Marlie.
Right, Nazem Kadri
Now have a look at Jerry D’Amigo. Some thought D’Amigo would be sent to the junior Kitchener Rangers. Instead he is turning heads with the Leafs AHL affiliate, even if he has garnered just one assist in the club’s six games.
Overwhelmed at the big league camp, D’Amigo has pieced his game back together with the Marlies.
“He was definitely nervous in the big camp,” said Marlies’ head coach Dallas Eakins. “He just got settled and he sees that he is part of a group. I used him sparingly early but every night he’s kind of grown on me.”
D’Amigo, a Binghamton, N.Y. native, is a product of the U.S. development system. He broke out last season with six goals in seven games at the World Junior Hockey Championship. He also earned ECHC rookie of the year honours with RPI. An excellent skater with good scoring instincts, D’Amigo’s potential prompted the Leafs to sign him after one college season.
None of that could fully prepare a 19-year-old for his first NHL training camp.
“I was a little nervous, playing with the pros in those exhibition games, but that’s a learning curve for me,” D’Amigo said. “I have to play my game and my coaches have given me good feedback. I have a training camp under my belt so that will help.”
D’Amigo says he is catching up with the game and is certain his goalscoring will come around.
Growing a more complete game, he said, will get him the ice times he needs to garner offensive opportunities.
D’Amigo said he isn’t wasting any time visualizing his first goal.
“My role is to create plays, score goals, play well defensively. When I close my eyes I am thinking about the next shift. If you don’t have the defensive side of the game, if you make turnovers, you’re not going to play.”
“A lot of these players come in and they have a big deficiency in their game, whether it be their play without the puck or whatever,” Eakins said. “Jerry is very well-rounded. He is not afraid to take the puck to the net, not afraid to go into the dirty areas, but when you put him on the ice against the other team’s top line, he knows what he is doing and he competes very, very hard for a young guy.
“He is progressing nicely,” Eakins said. “He has had some chances to score. That will come but he is definitely settling in.”
D’Amigo allows that he has thought about that elusive first pro goal.
“It will probably be a garbage goal. Any way it’s going to be a monkey off my back. I hope it comes soon but if not, I am just going to keep working hard.”