FRISCO, Texas — Making the bounce from the AHL to the NHL is tough for any participant. Making it for a talented ahead may be the hardest job within the sport.
Whereas a goalie, a defenseman or a checking line ahead will get an analogous project in making an attempt to make the massive staff, a talented ahead may must show himself in restricted minutes whereas taking part in a wierd function simply to realize the arrogance of the group.
That is type of the problem going through 21-year-old Riley Damiani this yr.
The proficient middle, who earned rookie of the yr within the AHL final season taking part in for the Texas Stars, already is being tried at proper wing in growth camp this week. What’s extra, the powerplay specialist possible will get extra penalty kill time to perhaps present the mother or father membership his versatility.
“We all know what Damer can carry,” mentioned Texas Stars coach Neil Graham, who’s working growth camp. “I coached him all final yr. He did an unbelievable job as our first line middle, nevertheless it’s about being versatile and giving your self the very best alternative on the subsequent stage.”
Graham mentioned Damiani will possible get a while at proper wing in Traverse Metropolis, Michigan this week when the younger Stars play towards prospects from 4 different NHL groups. “For those who can play a number of positions, should you can play a number of areas of particular groups, should you’re good at faceoffs, it is all about looking for methods so as to add minutes,” Graham mentioned. “So, for me, the extra areas you possibly can assist the massive membership in, the higher alternative you’ve got at sticking or getting a call-up and being a everlasting fixture.”
Damiani mentioned he is on board. Drafted within the fifth spherical in 2018, the Mississauga, Ontario native had a fantastic first season on the professional stage, tallying 36 factors (11 targets, 25 assists) in 36 video games with Dallas’ prime affiliate within the AHL. If Damiani is again as a prime six ahead within the AHL this season, he’ll attempt to construct on a run of nice offensive performances. He had 78 factors (28 targets, 50 assists) in 61 video games for Kitchener in 2019-20 and tallied 85 factors (30 targets, 55 assists) in 58 video games for the Rangers the yr earlier than.
Nonetheless, he understands that attending to the NHL requires a special form of impression. He mentioned Stars growth gurus Wealthy Peverley and J.J. McQueen talked to him in the summertime to organize him for the potential modifications he may face this week.
“J.J. and Pevs let me know that if you are going to break via, it is in all probability going to be on the wing first,” Damiani mentioned. “It’s important to work to get to the center of the ice on the subsequent stage, so I simply must play my recreation. I simply must attempt to discover a function on the subsequent stage. I believe can play in any function they need me to. I can regulate my recreation any which means. Whether or not it is backside six function or prime six ahead, energy play, penalty kill, I believe I can regulate to something that they are on the lookout for. I simply have to determine that function and go from there.”
Graham mentioned Damiani is a great participant with lots of talent, so he’ll attempt to assist him discover that function. Whereas Damiani did not kill lots of penalties final season, it was as a result of Graham wanted to save lots of his prime middle’s vitality for extra offensive endeavors. This yr, he’ll possible be utilized in quite a lot of roles.
“We talked to him in the summertime about including some proper wing to his arsenal, and I believe this event is an ideal time to attempt that,” Graham mentioned. “It doesn’t suggest he’ll play proper wing all event, however I believe it is an opportunity to determine some issues out and develop via some errors in that space. He is so sensible. He may have penalty killed for us all yr in Texas, however we would have liked him to provide each night time, so it was extra about managing his workload greater than something.”
Damiani is listed at 5-10, 170, so he isn’t an enormous participant, however he competes arduous, and he welcomes the battles towards the boards that he would possibly encounter on the wing.
“Simply the wall play,” Damiani mentioned when requested what his largest problem may be. “I am not an enormous man, however I have been engaged on it. I knew there was an opportunity I might be on the wing right here, so I ready for it and I am prepared for it, and I am trying ahead to it.”
Damiani is sporting No. 13, the identical quantity his dad Rino wore, and mentioned it was a pleasant second for his dad and his mother Jennifer. He mentioned he did not ask for the quantity, so he appreciates the destiny that determined he ought to put on it. That mentioned, the decided prospect would not go away loads to likelihood, so he appears in fairly good management of his future.
“He is simply received a knack for taking part in sensible,” mentioned Scott White, who serves as basic supervisor of the Texas Stars. “He isn’t an enormous man, however he is sensible, he has tenacity, imaginative and prescient and he anticipates performs properly. He works arduous, and I anticipate him to do the identical factor this yr. I anticipate him to simply maintain working and enhancing. I do know he desires it, so we’ll see the way it goes.”
The 2021 NHL Prospect Event in Traverse Metropolis begins on Thursday, Sept. 16. All video games might be streamed dwell on DetroitRedWings.com.
Full event schedule under (all occasions Central):
Thursday, Sept. 16
2 p.m. Columbus vs. Toronto
6 p.m. Detroit vs. Dallas
Friday, Sept. 17
2 p.m. St. Louis vs. Toronto
6 p.m. Dallas vs. Columbus
Saturday, Sept. 18
6 p.m. St. Louis vs. Detroit
Sunday, Sept. 19
1 p.m. Toronto vs. Dallas
5 p.m. Columbus vs. Detroit
Monday, Sept. 20
11 a.m. Dallas vs. St. Louis
12 p.m. Toronto vs. Columbus
Damiani picture credit score: Mollie Kendall
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This story was not topic to the approval of the Nationwide Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Membership.