With the 158th selection in the 2009 NHL Draft the Toronto Maple Leafs picked Jerry D'Amigo from the US National Team Development Program's Under-18 team based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was previously ranked 67th among North American skaters by the International Scouting Service.
Position: Left Wing
Hometown: Binghampton, NY
Full audio available at the end of the post
I just realized that any question I asked the players is an exclusive since I waited until all of the other reporters had left out of fear of Mike Zeisberger. So here is an Pension Plan Puppets Exclusive:
Has Brian Burke given you any idea on what kind of check up process they'll implement for you?
No, not really. I mean they just touched upon, you know, how much I am going to play, things like that. Not really what my role is going to be or anything.
What made you select Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute over some of the other schools that were recruiting you?
It was definitely the playing time. I think the coaching staff too. You know they're a big coaching staff. And people I trust liked RPI a little bit more.
For those without the benefit of YouTube you can hear this interview in the audio I posted. Paul Hendrick of LeafsTV talks to Jerry about a number of topics. Jerry mentions that it's great to see lots of players taken from the US in general and from among his teammates on the U18 team that won Gold earlier this year (D'Amigo scores the game winner against Canada in the semi-final: TSN video here). D'Amigo enjoyed the Hot House program in Ann Arbor that Brian Burke actually helped to implement. As Burke noted, it provides these kids with a professional level of direction in terms of nutrition and fitness to prepare them for the NCAA route. Another interesting thing to note is that Burke, in his post-draft scrum, said that D'Amigo will have four years to develop so don't look for him to be in the AHL anytime soon.
The Leafs interviewed D'Amigo a few times in the lead up to the draft and had several workouts. Dave Morrison seems to suggest that these workouts played a big part in their evaluation of the players. As for his time at RPI D'Amigo thinks he'll study either business or history for what it's worth. The video and audio actually have the hilarious exchange between Hendrick and D'Amigo where Paul is asking him about Ken Ryan and getting nothing but a blank look. Panicked, Hendrick looks at his papers and then D'Amigo asks "Kenny Ryan?" and Hendrick confirms that yes, that is who he was referencing. It took a lot to stifle my laughter.
Some Scouting Reports and Draft Tidbits
D'Amigo has offensive talent, but doesn't have a well-rounded game to go with it. He'll make bad passes and bad decisions in the same game as a well-executed manuever around the net.
"You could tell right away that he had more talent than a lot of other guys on the team," Laganiere said. "He’s a complete player to me. He could play both ends of the ice at a young age. He’s tenacious on the puck. He has one of the best work habits that I’ve seen from a kid in all the years I’ve been involved with hockey.
Jerry D'Amigo RLR 36, ISS 40, McKeens 84: plays with great drive and energy, has enough skill to fit into NHL but probably ends up as a 3rd line guy. He had a very high compete level at U-18 in Fargo. #6 on [Red Line Rerport] list of under rated players
Jerry D'Amigo: I was surprised that he slipped all the way to the 6th round of the draft, so from that standpoint, I think the Leafs got a pretty nice player for that late in the draft. Some people don't like D'Amigo because he's not huge, and not a great skater, but I don't think his skating is that bad, and he makes up for a lot of deficiencies with great effort, and really good hockey sense. Sixth round picks are almost always longshots to make the NHL, but D'Amigo is someone that could end up surprising people.