Jerry D'Amigo has jumped to the forefront of many Leafs discussions these past few weeks and now leads a wild new wave of optimism for our young Toronto team as we near the final stretch of the off-season. Alot of people wonder where he's going to land, how well his game will translate to the pros, and if he will ever team up with our other shining star Nazem Kadri as an incredibly young, incredibly fun dynamic duo.
Jerry's signing brings a couple discussions out of the woodwork, and lets get real...it's August 12th and alot of us are looking for any excuse to talk hockey until training camp starts soooo i'm going to take you through some of my D'Amigo & Leafs-related ramblings after the jump!
Marcel Mueller...people remember him right? His signing was a pretty big deal a few weeks ago, and he was pegged as having a real shot at making the big club if his game immediately transferred to North American Ice after playing and playing well over in the German Elite League. If he isn't up to speed right away, Burkie is probably going to do what he did with Bozak, Stalberg and Hanson last year and ease him in with the Marlies before giving him an extended shot with the big club once warranted.
Now, the assumption many people had was that Mueller was going to be the de facto first winger called up from the Marlies...is that the case now?
D'Amigo has said he's gunning for the Leafs (and personally i'd absolutely love to see him and Mueller blow people away and somehow make the team with Kadri)...he's not going back to Junior and he's not the type of guy that takes it slow as we've seen from his dramatic rise over the last year...so he is definitely in a position to push Mueller for that top winger spot on the Marlies and in the call-up pecking order. Obviously, two very different players physically and skill wise but it's an interesting dynamic to bring to the whole situation.
Having touched on Mueller, you now have two young guns burning for a chance with the big club and that only makes Burke's "no entitlement" rule that much more important as it is going to push the guys that make the team out of training camp that much more because they know that the Marlies are licking their chops for a chance to snipe their spot. Guys like Brayden Irwin, (wherever he's gunna end up) Luca Caputi, John Mitchell, and Christian Hanson if he ever gets signed are going to have to play that much better to stave off the invasion of the younger guns.
Now, heaven forbid Kadri isn't the superstar we all want him to be right off the bat...lets play the devils advocate here for a second and look at the situation if he were sent down to the Marlies. Kadri would now have the chance to bond with future teammates like D'Amigo and Mueller, and this can only mean good things for the club. It would be interesting to see how D'Amigo's speed and scoring touch mesh with Kadri's and how Mueller's size would be able to compliment the two smaller forwards.....just sayin.
Now...back to D'Amigo to finish off my bantering. He said in an interview with Matt Iaboni for maple leafs.com, http://mapleleafs.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=535905 , that he wants to be the guy that never takes a shift off, that digs it out in the corners and that gets time on the penatly kill. THAT is a hockey player fans and coaches can always rally behind, and that is the type of attitude that could very well land him a spot on the 3rd line opposite Colby Armstrong if he simply doesn't end up fitting into the top-6. Kadri may have a tougher time making the Leafs this year because he is expected to fit into a top-6 center role (i still think he can do it)...D'Amigo on the other hand has the intangibles, speed, and work effort to play a great role on the third line. SO this just adds on to the discussion of where Jerry D'Amigo will end up in October and who all is gunna be effected depending on where he lands....he's gunning for the Leafs and he's definitely gunna turn some heads one way or another.