Young Leafs Duo To Watch In Future
Tuesday, 09.14.2010 / 10:17 PM ET / Mike Ulmer's Blog
By Mike Ulmer - Mapleleafs.com commentator
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Jerry D'Amigo and Nazem Kadri. Call them shock and awe.
Along with winger Marcel Mueller, the two 19-year-olds form the most precious trio of prospects at the Leafs rookie camp which closed in London Tuesday with 2-1 win for the wannabe Ottawa Senators over the wannabe Leafs.
The highlight of the night, from a Leafs point of view at least, was D’Amigo’s second-period shorthanded dash from inside his own blueline down the length of the ice. D’Amigo then banked his second goal of the tournament of an Ottawa defenceman.
D’Amigo is just drop-dead sneaky. His marathon started with a feint that lost the Senator closest to him. He kept on skating until someone got close enough to put a stick on him. It was the most unlikely play of the night.
Like many goalscorers, D’Amigo game is built on surprise. He isn’t big, five-10 but he is solidly built and a skater of indeterminate skills. That is to say you are never sure how fast he can go.
D’Amigo showed in London an ability to sniff out the play in his own end as well as the opposition’s. He shoots from unexpected angles, even as he is being rubbed of the play and he is in unflinching in staking out the slot and facing the shooter.
“You have to find your spots,” said D’Amigo who signed with the Leafs after one year at RPI. “There are always openings in a defence. You have to get in there when the time is right. I don’t try to force things.”
Dallas Eakins, working the Leafs bench until the Marlies take him away, sensed the kid loosened up when he got some success.
“I thought D’Amigo showed a lot more tonight. I thought he was OK in the first couple of games but after we got that goal I thought he really started skating.”
Kadri, meanwhile, was in the middle of just about everything. He banked a point but went goalless in two of the three games and missed one contest with a minor hip injury.
Kadri lost a man with a ridiculous dangle, tried to redistribute the head of a Senator checker with his elbow and infuriated one Senator so badly it took some backup from tough guy Mike Liambas to set things right. He took a penalty after leaving his feet and was bailed out by D’Amigo’s dash.
This isn’t to say he was great. He wasn’t. He probably wasn’t even that good but he was arresting and playing in his junior rink in front of friends and family, he is probably allowed. If if he dashes through training camp, it won’t because he had a flying start in London.
“Naz was being Nazem,” Eakins said. “He’s out there trying to be physical. He created a couple of things for his teammates and had a couple of chances himself. He is going in the right direction too, but they are all going to have to step up their games.”
Eakins sees an interesting dynamic between the two.
“I think Jerry is more of a meat and potatoes guy. He will fly under the radar and then suddenly he will burst out and you will notice him. Naz, you are going to see him. He is toe-dragging the puck. He is very creative so you are constantly looking for that. The great thing about those two is they kind of complement each other. It will be interesting to see what they do from here.”