Jerry D’Amigo was one of the names mentioned by Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle as getting more playing time due to David Clarkson‘s injury. Clarkson was injured blocking a Michael Del Zotto shot against the New York Rangers on Saturday night, and D’Amigo will be given a shot to take over Clarkson’s role while he is injured. He could be taking a few shifts early on the second line tonight against the New York Islanders.
D’Amigo is used to more of a prominent role from his play with the Marlies over the past three years, and now he will get the chance to prove that he can take on more responsibility. Carlyle said that he was impressed with D’Amigo’s play of late and would reconsider his role based on how he performs in the next couple of games.
D’Amigo may prove to have some offensive upside, and he would benefit from more ice time and opportunity as he has only been able to produce two points (one goal, one assist) on the season so far. I think that one way D’Amigo could distinguish himself from other Leaf forwards would be to play better on the defensive side of the puck. Not many Leaf forwards are skilled at blocking pucks and grinding out plays in the corner.
Carlyle is looking for more defensive responsibility from his top-six, so D’Amigo, who features an efficient two-way game, could find himself rapidly ascending on the depth chart. Like many young forwards who are looking to get in their coaches’ good graces, D’Amigo will receive probably three shifts for an “eye test” from the Leafs’ coaching staff until they make an in-game adjustment depending on whether or not he looks out of place at the beginning of the game.
I would not expect to see D’Amigo on the PP or PK anytime soon, and he would have to string together a few solid games before seeing any action there (unless he was playing in a blowout). D’Amigo is probably better than the minutes that he is being given at the moment for the Leafs, but until Clarkson’s injury, there was no real way of fitting him into the lineup.
To me he is more of an offensive threat at even strength than Jay McClement who is often maligned by fans but plays a solid PK and defensive game. However, D’Amigo should be given the opportunity to outproduce McClement as he does not seem to have the hands or shot to be able to score consistently at the NHL level.
If D’Amigo had the amount of ice time that McClement did, he would definitely be able to be better than five points so far this season (one goal, four assists), which is what Jay has produced this season. On a team of forwards who are not producing up to expectations (most notably Clarkson, who he is replacing), D’Amigo has the chance to convert his good play as of late into a better position on the roster.
The question is, will D’Amigo make the most of this opportunity? Or will he be lost in the shuffle of prospects whose skill level is somewhere between the AHL and NHL standards?