We’ve reached the final week of our Top 25 Under 25 countdown! The rankings were determined by a combination of reader voting and our staff’s own voting. We then combined the reader rankings (50%) and the staff rankings (50%) to determine the top 25. To be eligible for the countdown, a player must be 24 or younger on October 5, 2017, when the 2017-18 NHL season begins.
We’re taking a look at the best and the brightest in the Los Angeles Kings organization in our fifth annual Top 25 Under 25 countdown. He’s probably one of the most underrated prospects in the Kings’ system, but we’ve got him ranked at #5: Michael Amadio.
2016-17 Team: Ontario Reign (AHL)
2016-17 Statistics: 68 GP, 16 G, 25 A, 41 P
Current NHL Projection (via NHLe): 82 GP, 9 G, 14 A, 23 P
Jewels Reader Ranking: 6
Jewels Staff Ranking: 5
Before we opened up the rankings to our readers and our staff, I had a look at the list and was 99% sure I knew who the top four players would be. Sure enough, they came in 1-2-3-4, with the readers and staff even agreeing on their specific order. So my biggest question was who would come in at #5, and though Mike Amadio didn’t receive a single first-place nod from our reader voters or our staff, it’s hard to argue he doesn’t belong here.
Amadio was selected with the 90th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, 61 picks after the considerably more-hyped Adrian Kempe. However, Amadio skyrockted to #6 in our 2016 Top 25 Under 25 countdown after a 50-goal season for the North Bay Battalion in his final OHL season. This year, Amadio was expected to be a contributor for Ontario, especially after picking up 5 points in 11 games during the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs in his AHL debut. (Here’s his first goal for Ontario; to say the least, it came in a high-pressure situation.)
Amadio didn’t just contribute, he thrived. Did you know that Mike Amadio had the 14th-highest point total of any 20-year-old in the AHL last season? Other 20-year-olds who put up 41 points over the full AHL season in 2016-17 include Michael Dal Colle, the #5 overall pick in 2014, and Andrew Mangiapane, who put up back-to-back 100-point seasons in the Ontario Hockey League. The last 20-year-olds to score at such a prolific rate for the Kings’ AHL team over a full season? Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson, who put up 51 (in 58 games) and 47 (in 64 games) points, respectively, in 2012-13. AHL scoring isn’t the be-all and end-all, of course — Patrick O’Sullivan holds the 20-year-old scoring record since the AHL’s expansion to 27 teams in 2000-01 — but it’s exactly what Kings management was hoping for from Amadio.
AHL Leading Scorers, 2016-17 (Under 21 Years Old as of April 1)
|Michael Dal Colle||BRI||20||F||75||15||26||41||37||0.55|
Arguably more impressive was that Amadio did this without getting a ton of points on the power play, which many of those ahead of him on the scoring list did. I don’t know how much Amadio featured on Ontario’s power play, and perhaps that’s an area of improvement for him if he wasn’t able to convert available opportunities. (He shot 16% overall last season, so finishing wasn’t an issue in general.) Against Anaheim, though, Amadio was a crucial factor as LA opened the scoring on the power play. After nearly scoring on a tip going to the front of the net — a more frequent wrinkle in LA’s attack this season — Amadio created Auger’s PP goal:
Amadio seems to be taking well to the Kings’ coaches, which makes sense, because he’s a remarkably disciplined player. Amadio has taken exactly two (2) minor penalties in 84 total games for the Ontario Reign, regular season and playoffs, and his 4 PIM last year were the fewest for any AHL skater (min. 60 games). With recent crackdowns on slashing threatening to inflate penalty totals, it’s nice to have a guy waiting in the wings who can be counted on to avoid the penalty box. I walked away from Thursday’s game very impressed with Amadio, and the coach who gave him more ice time than any other Kings forward was presumably impressed as well.
That ice time came when a bunch of other Kings were in China, though. Could Amadio get a shot at the National Hockey League this season ahead of any of those guys? Starting in LA is seemingly out of the question; that’s especially true with 16 forwards who aren’t exempt from waivers (14 of whom went to China) and Brodzinski and Kempe ahead of him in line. He’s cut out pretty well for a midseason call-up, though, especially if the Kings want a spark in their lineup. There are other centers with higher pedigree in the pipeline, but Amadio has a couple years to establish his place in the Kings’ future.