For a plain-spoken guy, Jamie Devane
carries with him a lot of intrigue.
The Leafs third-round draft choice in 2009, Devane’s fitness and development made him an easy choice to advance to the main camp beginning Friday.
“It’s always amazing how a guy progresses and this guy has gotten better,” said Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins. “This kid has improved as a player. That’s what you want to see. If a kid shows up a year later and he’s the same, that’s when you know they are about to fall off and you are never going to remember their names.”
Devane’s first and most obvious asset is his size. He is six-foot-four and thicker than a stone steeple. He has gained nearly 20 pounds since being drafted and in his third season in Plymouth, he bagged 19 goals and as many assists while fighting a dozen times and amassing 131 penalty minutes. Allow five minutes for fighting per tussle and you have a player whose penalty total reflects a measure of discipline.
“You have more value if you can do more than fight,” Devane said.
“If I have to make it in the league I have to have another side of my game than fighting.”
The Leafs are becoming convinced he can.
“He is a power kid,” said Leafs Director of Player Development Jim Hughes.
“He is starting to learn how to think the game. He is using his size to his advantage. He is an aggressor, an attacker, he plays the game intelligently. His skill set has continued to improve the last two years.”
The Mississauga native lost his chance to impress at last year’s camp when he was concussed by a hit from behind. When he got back to Plymouth, he found skills few might have believed he had.
“I’m way ahead of where I was last year as far as development,” Devane said. “I started working on different skills, obviously staying tough but other parts of my game, the skating, hand skills, stuff like that.”
“It just takes time,” Hughes said. “He’s got confidence in his body and he is more mature in his mind. He can take those ingredients and add them to his game. From two years ago to now, he has done a lot of work to get here.”
The choice for Devane and the Leafs will be a spot with the Marlies or a return to Plymouth. But with the Leafs spending two draft choices in July for hulking forwards David Broll
and Tyler Biggs
, Brian Burke’s call for truculence is finally being answered.