In his fourth season of professional hockey, it looks like Jerry D’Amigo may have finally recieved his "in" to the National Hockey League, being called up to the Toronto Maple Leafs today amidst a grocery list of injuries across the forward core.
D’Amigo is somebody I had pegged to be either an AHL/NHL tweener or the Captain of the Toronto Marlies. Up until now, neither ended up being the case; he still hasn’t seen his first career NHL game, and the C ended up going to Trevor Smith (who is doing well on the Leafs, and would have to clear waivers to go back. Whoops?). He’s contributed in all sorts of on-ice situations in the AHL, and shows a lot of maturity for a 22 year old.
Jerry likely comes in as a bottom six winger, something he was targeting during training camp. "They said to keep going, that my penalty killing was one of the main things that was good. I’ve just got to take the body more, and be more of that third, fourth line kind of player they need."
As it stands, the Leafs could use some skill and energy in those bottom lines. Look at the last game against San Jose; the game winning goal came as a line of Frazer McLaren, Jerred Smithson, and Colton Orr wandered around seemingly lost. D’Amigo also brings fantastic penalty killing ability, being a major part of the Marlies’ 1st in the AHL penalty kill in 2010/11 and 2011/12. He hasn’t been used as much this season, and perhaps by coincidence, Toronto’s PK unit is having its worst percentages in four years.
With Tyler Bozak out for "an extended period of time", and the Leafs’ PK unit plummeting from 2nd to 25th, one can assume that this is the biggest reason for the call up. He can also produce on occasion – his 8 points in 19 games aren’t terribly impressive, but he does have two goals and an assist in the past three games. We’ll see when (or if) he draws into the lineup, though it could be as early as tonight against Dallas.
Photo courtesy of Christian Bonin / TSGPhoto.com