Riley Damiani is eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft. He’s a player who had a good season with the Kitchener Rangers. He can literally be a center or a winger and that will keep him on teams’ radar. Teams routinely keep an eye on players like this. Last year, Noel Hoefenmayer wasn’t invited to the combine and he ended up going in the 4th round. The Coyotes got what’s perceived as a “value pick”. Damiani strikes me as that kind of player.
“I can play both. I can play wherever I’m asked to really,” Damiani stated. “I’m more comfortable in the center position. Just being able to play down low and I would say my defensive zone coverage is pretty good. I can chip the pucks out and play the wall game too.”
Scoring goals down low at 5-10 won’t be easy as he moves up the ladder, but his determination could make up for that. He has plenty of it.
“I think it’s worth it to take a hit down low to get a grade-A scoring opportunity. At the next level goals won’t come easy. It’s working hard, getting to the net, stopping at the net. Doing the little things because you really want to score.”
In the playoffs, he had 12 points in 19 games with 5 goals. He had one game-winner and he fired off 45 shots. He wasn’t invited to the combine, but teams are keeping tabs on him. He has a lot of upside.
“I think I just took more pride in getting to the net and shooting pucks more. Last year I felt I didn’t shoot the puck enough and I was passing up opportunities,” he divulged. “Maybe I was a little scared in my rookie year to not make a mistake and looking for the perfect play. I realized you can’t score if you can’t shoot. So, I started shooting a lot more this year.”
Logan Stanley is a big teammate of Damiani and there have been times when the 6-7 defenseman has faced a lot of criticism in the Winnipeg market. This report on him may put that to rest for a while.
“I would say it definitely makes it easier,” he cited. “He opens up a lot of room. His ability to find you on the ice is second to none. He’s a smart player, a good player. He has very good feet for his size. He wants to make his teammates better. He’s a great leader. He gives good constructive criticism and he picks up teammates when they’re down.”
Damiani is a good teammate. He has offensive upside in his game, he’s defensively responsible and he will get physically stronger over time. Don’t be surprised to hear his name called in Dallas. I’m sure there’s a team willing to give him a chance, and that’s all that it takes, just one team.