Toronto Maple Leaf fans and the world alike watched last new years as the two top prospects of the hockey Mecca that is Toronto faced off at the World Juniors, twice.
The teams split the contests though as most of us know the USA took home the hardware to the dismay of heavily-favoured Canadians.
This would stand as both players' biggest stage with more prominent roles than past international play to date.
Jerry D'Amigo, when all was said and done, had a gold medal around his neck, along with tying Canada's Taylor Hall for third in scoring in the tournament, both with six goals and six assists for 12 points.
Now, we all know where Taylor Hall went in the 2010 draft (first overall, Edmonton). Not that I am comparing D'Amigo to Hall in any way shape or form, but the numbers in the tournament are what they are.
Nazem Kadri, on the other hand, came away with a silver medal, three goals, and five assists, tied for seventh with nine others at eight points.
Kadri with Canada saw time on the top line with Hall and some on the power play, and had every opportunity to shine as did D'Amigo with the USA.
D'Amigo tallied points in both meetings with Canada, including a goal and an assist in the gold medal game. Kadri had two assists during those meetings, both in the gold medal game.
Kadri went back to Juniors and continued to dominate, putting up big points after the shaky start he had had with the London Knights, finishing the year with 35 goals and 58 assists for 93 points and 105 penalty minutes.
Does the fact that he had that many points and penalty minutes tell you that he has grit or does it say he needs to mature? I'd figure both.
D'Amigo finished off his NCAA season at R.P.I with 10 goals, 24 assists, and 37 penalty minutes.
The NCAA has players in it who have matured and is more comparable to the AHL than Junior hockey is. Players coming straight from NCAA have transitioned to the NHL with ease, including recent, now former Leafs player Victor Stalberg who went pretty much straight from the U. of Vermont to the big team with a couple playoff games with the AHL Marlies slid in.
A key concern for most players coming out of Juniors trying to make the jump straight to the NHL is that they need to fill out. Kadri, in the offseason, has apparently added over 10 lbs of muscle obviously trying to silence that question for Leafs brass.
D'Amigo has slipped under the radar for most media until he was recently added to the training camp roster and decided to discontinue his college hockey career at R.P.I.
One fact that may sway brass is that D'Amigo is listed as a right winger and Kadri is listed as a center, and as any Leaf fan knows, they need help up the middle. Advantage Kadri.
On a team that is rebuilding and must infuse some youth and scoring, both these guys may be NHL ready enough, and both names, D'Amigo and Kadri, may be sewn on the back of a Leafs jersey this season.
What both these young talents bring to training camp remains to be seen, but I'm sure both have it in there minds to be on the ice at the ACC on Oct 7 when the Leafs host Montreal to start regular season.
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