This season: 37 games, 4 goals, 4 assists, 8 points, 8 penalty minutes, -2 rating, 28 shots, -2.6% CF%Rel, 0.997 PDO, 9:19 time on ice
The good: After a more assertive training camp, Michael Amadio made a strong early impression as a responsible right-handed center during a first-half recall that began in late October. The eight-game call-up, precipitated by a phone call in which “my body was pretty much shaking the whole time when I got the news,” included his first career goal before a ticket back to Ontario three weeks later. The call-up hit the right chords with Amadio, who, along with Jonny Brodzinski and Matt Moulson helped blaze the Reign back into playoff season with a dynamite December and January in which Amadio had notched points in 17 straight games just prior to a mid-January recall. Upon his return, he played in 21 of 24 games and totaled his first two two-point games – including a two-goal game in a win at Buffalo – before he jumped in and out of the lineup late in the season based on personnel and match-ups. While he was in the lineup, Amadio gradually earned a role on the second power play unit, and in his lone playoff game, made a strong play along the boards to issue a crisp return pass to Dion Phaneuf, who issued the puck across the ice to Paul LaDue for the Kings’ lone goal at T-Mobile Arena. “I think the one area that we really like in his game, he’s got a lot of composure,” John Stevens said. “He’ll take a puck in small spaces and hang onto it. He’s got a low-panic threshold that allows him to make plays in tight spaces. With that part of his game, I think there are elements to his game that you can’t teach. I think there’s some high-end hockey sense in there that I think is a gift, and we’d like to see him become a more consistent player on a shift-in, shift-out, night-in, night-out basis.”
His low panic threshold and strong positioning instilled confidence that he’d be able to make plays under pressure while on the man advantage, where four of his nine regular season and playoff points were registered. On top of his offensive numbers, he still embodies the organizational ethos as a keen and defensively sound young center. “I’ve always been on myself about being a good offensive player, but being a good defensive player at the same time,” he said in January, and that’s not exactly uncharted territory for an L.A. forward drafted c.2014. Through his first two years of professional hockey, Amadio has shown that he can he can play his own game even as a younger player at the AHL and NHL levels, one that comes with good attention to detail, puck retrieval and close-quarter playmaking, and maybe even some scoring, too.
The bad: Amadio had an encouraging 37-game rookie season as the second-youngest player on the team, and surely there wasn’t anything really glaring or off-putting. But he was still green and in the process of defining his game at the NHL level, and only three times in 38 games cracked the 13-minute barrier as a 21-year-old getting small-ish minutes in a fourth line role. His eight points and sub-50% possession rates seem about right, at least for this stage of his advancement. And that’s not bad! He’s a smart young player that may, by virtue of his history, have a moderately raised goal scoring ceiling but will need to continue to raise his overall competitive spark and consistency – both familiar calls for younger players. He also faced some of the easier opposition, even as someone whose home and road splits were essentially even possession-wise, but accounted for only 28 total shots and a team-low 4.41 iSh/60 rate among forwards who appeared in more than two games. Amadio’s on-ice 1.5 GF/60 was low, and because the three forwards he spent the most time with (Torrey Mitchell, 1.70 GF/60; Andy Andreoff, 1.54 GF/60; Kyle Clifford, 1.40 GF/60) also boasted low scoring rates, the Kings’ fourth line wasn’t regularly productive, even amidst the team-wide rise in scoring. But, again, these are the numbers of a 21-year-old over his first 38 NHL games, and the rates and metrics may not be as helpful of a snapshot, given the growth inherent in someone who made a promising AHL debut as a 20-year-old rookie and was often useful in a few trustworthy roles one year later with the parent club. In time, both primary and secondary statistics will improve. On the other hand, the Kings’ window is still open, there has been a call sounded for secondary scoring, and Amadio, while young, could be a peripheral scorer with some interesting upside.
Going forward: There weren’t many surprises with Amadio this past year, and that’s just fine for a young forward who appears to have a good constitution to his game and won’t hurt the team defensively. As the off-season turns towards 2018-19, there will be other emerging options at center – Adrian Kempe, and, soon, Gabriel Vilardi – in addition to the spots held by Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter, and the team may add another versatile forward who can play center and wing via trade or free agency. Essentially, barring a Carter or Kempe position switch, which doesn’t appear to be coming, or some injury, or Vilardi not being able to latch onto the team with a regular role, Amadio doesn’t yet appear to have a clear path towards jumping up a rung on the team’s totem pole of centers. But that will sort itself out over 82 games, and if Amadio continues his steady and upward ascension, he’ll absorb the role he earns. The structure of the team could tremendously benefit from another younger player like Amadio to take a step forward, similar to what Kempe showed for much of 2017-18. Los Angeles’ top two offensive prospects on the verge of full-time NHL work are Amadio and Vilardi, and both are right-handed centers who have experience at right wing as well as center, so both will have wider landing spots when they vie for similar forward slots come training camp. It takes certain gifts to be able to score 50 goals in major junior – he finished fourth in the OHL as a 19-year-old, behind 19-year-olds Christian Dvorak (52 goals) and Andrew Magiapane (51 goals) and 18-year-old Alex DeBrincat (51 goals) – and while goal scoring isn’t expected to be his most prominent contribution, there is still some degree of unearthed natural scoring ability that the Kings could tremendously benefit from. He turned 22 last weekend, has bought in well to the team’s development staff and coaching, and has some interesting if limited upside as a two-way center who can make plays and has “ice water in his veins,” even if the jury on whether he’ll be a semi-consistent NHL scorer still appears to be out. Amadio is eligible to be returned to Ontario without having to clear waivers, but he also has a $717,500 cap hit that could be put to pretty good use in the NHL.
Player evaluations: #3 DION PHANEUF | #5 CHRISTIAN FOLIN | #6 JAKE MUZZIN | #7 OSCAR FANTENBERG | #8 DREW DOUGHTY | #9 ADRIAN KEMPE | #10 TOBY RIEDER | #11 ANZE KOPITAR | #13 KYLE CLIFFORD | #15 ANDY ANDREOFF | #19 ALEX IAFALLO | #22 TREVOR LEWIS | #23 DUSTIN BROWN | #24 DEREK FORBORT | #27 ALEC MARTINEZ | #32 JONATHAN QUICK | #44 NATE THOMPSON | #52 MICHAEL AMADIO | #70 TANNER PEARSON | #71 TORREY MITCHELL | #73 TYLER TOFFOLI | #77 JEFF CARTER | KUEMPER / CAMPBELL | THE OTHERS