By Mark Ritter

When you consider the lack of scoring prowess expected from the Toronto Maple Leafs top-six forwards, general manager Brian Burke is hoping someone—anyone—will emerge as a legitimate scoring threat.

Prospects Nazem Kadri (who has plenty of offensive upside) and Luca Caputi (projected to be more of a grinder) are expected to make a big push to make the 2010-11 roster, as is Jerry D’Amigo, who may very well evolve into a legitimate scoring threat.

Originally drafted 158th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry draft, D’Amigo impressed at the 2009 World Junior Championships where he led Team USA with four goals and 13 points—tying him for third overall in the tournament.

After Team USA’s gold-medal victory, D’Amigo continued to impress at the U.S. college level, where he posted 10 goals and 35 points in 35 games.

Known as a highly competitive, speedy forward with physical prowess and great offensive anticipation, D’Amigo has been compared to Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils and, to a lesser extent, Mike Cammalleri of the Montreal Canadiens—which is pretty high praise.

Listed at 6’0”, 210 pounds, D’Amigo has the size, skill, and determination to be NHL-ready as soon as this season.

As it stands now, D’Amigo will be given every opportunity to make the Leafs squad with spots on the Toronto Marlies of the AHL or the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL serving as backup options for the talented 19-year-old.

With so many question marks up front, the Leafs would like nothing more than to see D’Amigo make the squad. While many experts are hesitant to suggest D’Amigo will crack the Leafs’ lineup, almost every article/scouting report I have read suggests that D’Amigo is the real deal and, after some seasoning in the AHL, should evolve into a very effective scoring forward.

Much like Kadri last season, Look for D’Amigo to impress at training camp and, at some point in the season, crack the Leafs lineup.

Realistically, D’Amigo will likely see 40-50 games of AHL action before he makes the move to the NHL, with a full-time NHL job a definite possibility in 2011-12.

Until next time,

Peace!