The gap between two spots in terms of quality can be significant, even though one player is jus one ranking behind the next.
Similarly, when comparing across different versions, the #11 spot on this year's countdown might be considered a player of higher or lower quality than the Top 25 Countdown that came before it.
Jerry D'Amigo rises six places in our rankings this month, and after two previous appearances in the low teens, he now sits on the edge of our Top 10.
But D'Amigo didn't have an overly impressive season; in fact, statistically he took a step back from the year before that saw him score at roughly 0.5 ppg in the AHL and be a significant offensive contributor in the Marlies Calder Cup run. With 29 points in 70 games, D'Amigo's offence came and went this season, highlighted by a 10 game pointless stretch in December (he nabbed an assist in the final game of 2012 to avoid being whitewashed for the entire month of December).
As we mentioned with several other prospects from the Marlies, the lockout played a factor. Not to keep using that as an excuse, but young NHL calibre players like Nazem Kadri and older veterans like Keith Aucoin and Mike Zigomanis swallowed up key roles. While other guys were affected by having a struggle for ice time in their first full season in the AHL, a guy like D'Amigo, who had established his credentials as an AHL Top six forward, was pushed down the depth chart and forced into a complementary role.
Luckily for D'Amigo, his playing style suits an assignment well, and he's able to make an impact on a game without scoring. D'Amigo is a strong skater and a tenacious forechecker, and while a bit undersized at 5'11", he also tips the scales at nearly 210 lbs. so isn't afraid to throw his weight around.
D'Amigo formed an excellent (and dangerous) penalty killing combinations with departed winger Greg Scott, that helped lead the Marlies to one of the league's premier penalty killing units, and a threat to score shorthanded.
D'Amigo's offensive success in the NCAA hasn't fully translated to the pro game yet. The interesting thing about D'Amigo is that at 22 years old it's not likely he'll suddenly blow up offesnively, but he has a history of offence (in both NCAA and a brief OHL stint) to show he's capable of it when given the opportunity. (And his coach during that three month experience in the OHL was new Marlies head coach Steve Spott)
On teams that don't employ facepunchers in both 4th line wing roles, D'Amigo is the type of guy that could get a brief audition in the NHL this season.
As mentioned yesterday, D'Amigo and Gauthier actually tied in our countdown with 166 points. The tiebreaking procedure gives D'Amigo the edge for having the single highest vote (6th, from PPP). D'Amigo remained a bit of distance outside of the Top 10.
He's still very young considering his pro-experience and could still develop into a solid 2nd/3rd line winger, though at this point if he sticks in the NHL he'll be no better than a 3rd line option.
Tough to imagine he already has 2.5 seasons of experience in the AHL. Could potentially make the Leafs as a checking line/PK specialist. Offensive ceiling is low.The biggest factor in D'Amigo moving up six spots in this countdown is the departures from last year; six names ahead of moved on. When considering the quality of prospects last year, last season our Top 10 was almost all either key NHL players already, or were on the verge of becoming one. I think you can confidently say that about our Top 5 or 6 this time around. We ar still very much dealing with prospects that still have a low ceiling or the chance of not working out.
On that sobering note, hopefully with a renewed focus on prospect development and opportunities to play a signifcant role, D'Amigo can take more positive steps towards an NHL future.