Marlies camp adds 14 hopefuls

Jerry D’Amigo realizes what it takes to make the pros, now he has to go out and do it at Marlies camp.

With the big team pruning down its roster to more closely resemble the opening-day squad, the Toronto Marlies added 14 recently cut players to it’s training camp.

D’Amigo aims to impress and show developments in his game that will ultimately land him back with the big club.

“It was good to get that experience,” said the 21-year-old  D’Amigo after his first practice at Marlies camp. “It shows you how much better you have to be because the level is so high up there.”

D’Amigo, Luca Caputi, Joe Colborne, Ryan Hamilton, Marcel Mueller, Kenny Ryan, Greg Scott and Mike Zigomanis were the forwards sent to the minors.

Caputi, Hamilton and Zigomanis were all placed on waivers after the cuts and have to wait until noon Tuesday to see if they’ve cleared, making them eligible to stay with the baby Leafs.

Another NHL team could also claim them.

Young players like Colborne and Ryan know they are going to have to show improvements in consistency and reliability at both ends of the ice in order to uphold a spot on either club.

After being dropped by the Leafs, the dream ends for developing players and battling for a roster spot serves as a reality check.

“Now with the Marlie camp its day-by-day where you’ve got to prove yourself,” said Ryan, the former Windsor Spitfires winger. “My main goal right now is staying on with the Marlies.”

Defenders Jesse Blacker, Jeff Finger, Simon Gysbers, Korbinian Holzer, Juraj Mikus and goaltender Mark Owuya have been moved to the Marlies.

Finger, and his US $3.5 million contract, was put on waivers.

The Maple Leafs brain trust likes what it sees when it comes to the Marlies, particularly with the skill and depth of the young club.

“It’s going to be a very good team down there,” said Dave Poulin, VP of hockey operations for the Leafs. “When we talk about an organization, we talk about 50 players.”

“[The players] are deciding who plays the games, and who plays well dictates if they get another shot,” Poulin said. “Some people are making decisions very difficult for us right now, which is the beauty of depth in an organization.”

When the supply of serviceable players outweighs the demand, the organization hopes, individuals battling for their spot have to perform at their best each night and cannot afford to show complacency.

“As we saw last year there were a number of guys who started the year on the Marlies who became very, very big contributors for the Maple Leafs,” said Poulin on the Leafs official website.

“It’s going to be a situation where the competition down there spurs the competition up here.”