Ask a complete player to critique himself and you might be surprised to hear what he says.
Michael Amadio is a complete player and he’s also a Los Angeles Kings’ prospect currently playing in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). Drafted at No. 90 overall in 2014, he’s beginning to play a style of hockey that’s looking rather familiar to another King drafted only four years earlier.
Tyler Toffoli is the Los Angeles Kings’ current sniper with a blossoming 200-foot-game thanks to a better training regime. There’s been a lot of emphasis placed on both Toffoli and Amadio to develop themselves into two-way forwards.
Michael Amadio: A Complete Player
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound sniper plays for the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) North Bay Battalion under the coaching direction of Head Coach and GM, Stan Butler. “He’s always been a good goal-scorer wherever he’s played,” says Butler. “What I mean by that is, when he played in midget hockey and in Sault Ste Marie, he was the top-scorer in the league even though he was only 15. When he came to us, he’s gotten better every year. If you look at his stats, it’s like a bar graph, in his first year he had 36 points and then he went up to 70 and then boom, boom. I think this year, he’s probably got a realistic chance to get 100 points.”
Perhaps one of Amadio’s most valuable assets is his ability to develop faster than his peers. As Butler takes a look back at his progress over the years, he says, “he’s a much better player. So he’s probably surpassed a lot of players who got drafted ahead of him…”
Why has his progress surpassed a lot of his peers in the CHL though? What’s he doing that’s contributing to his growth that others are not? “He’s a really hard-working player,” says Butler. “I think he plays in both ends of the rink. He’s good offensively and defensively.”
Following Toffoli’s Footsteps
Along the tracks of Amadio’s development, he’s learned to play a type of game that Butler calls a 200-foot game. This is a term hockey insiders use to describe a player who plays both ends of the rink equally as hard. Every NHL rink is 200-feet long and that’s where the term originates from.
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard the phrase come up either, nor is it the only one used to describe this style of play.
A two-way forward is a forward who plays defensively, just as well as he plays offensively.
A complete player has mastered each skill through years of practice and dedication. This includes stick handling, passing, shooting, skating, pass reception, offensive play, defensive play, team systems, etc.
The 200-foot-player is capable of patrolling the blue line so effectively, that he can anticipate the defensive game and also manage it. They are fully committed to the puck, even when they don’t have it and they have limited emotion and tremendous positional play.
“I think he was drafted as a really good two-way player,” Darryl Sutter tells the LA Kings Insider.
These are the types of players the Kings are looking for these days. Their obsession for puck possession is no secret.
Talk about controlling the puck. In a game against the Edmonton Oilers back in 2014, this video literally highlights Toffoli’s beauty in slow motion.
Did you know that when Toffoli was drafted by the Kings in 2010 at No. 47 overall, he was leading the Ontario league in shorthanded goals? Guess who’s leading it now? You got it, Amadio is. So it does look like he’s surpassed a lot of his peers who were drafted before him.
Amadio is well on his way to making a reputation for himself as a complete player and as a King. Furthermore, Butler tells The Hockey Writers that, “he very seldom shows emotion” – just another sign that he’s on the right path.
His style-of-play is respected by all. “For instance, if you’re at a game where things aren’t going really well and guys are getting upset and things like that, he’s the type of guy that will always go out and have a really good shift and play well,” Butler continues to say. “He’ll quietly, more or less, get the other guys back in line, without really saying anything, but just how he plays and how he reacts and they start to see that he’s not overreacting to this and so [they wonder], why am I?”
Trending terms like these are quickly becoming all the rage in hockey and it’s because players are adapting to the game as it evolves. Now the game needs every player to be a complete player. “I think his skating is getting better,” Butler adds in. “I don’t know if it’s at the level to be playing at in the National Hockey League, but it’s definitely at the level to be playing in the American league and he’ll have to go from there.”
Complete Players Worth More Than Top 6 Forwards
Although two-way forwards aren’t necessarily on the top line, they still earn lots of playing time due to their defensive abilities. “So he doesn’t need to be quote, ‘A top six forward at the National Hockey League level’,” Butler continues on. “I mean, I think he could fit into playing on the third or fourth lines and kill penalties… that makes you a little bit more valuable than if you’re just a one-man show.”
This is why Amadio’s team looks up to him and it’s why he’s the Captain. “He’s a good leader and he’s quiet,” Butler tells The Hockey Writers. “There’s different ways to lead: there’s vocal leaders and there’s quiet leaders. He’s a quiet leader. He doesn’t say a whole lot, but he leads by example.”
Quality character like this is just another reason why Amadio and his 200-foot-game is so valuable to Butler. Guys like this are always there for everyone, both the wingers and the defensemen. If someone’s in trouble along the boards, he goes in and pulls out the puck. Their persevering attitude gives rise to battling in the corners and preventing odd-man rushes by the opposing team. “I’ve seen him in situations to see how he would respond, more than how he would react,” Butler says. “He always seems to respond in a good way. He’s a pretty quiet guy – a pretty mature guy.”
These are exactly the qualities needed to be a complete player. After all, he is the guy that everyone looks up to. “I just want him to work on being a go-to player,” says Butler. “Everybody relies on the guy who scores the big goals and I think that’s an important thing. I think it’s important that for our team is that he’s our best player.”
Signs Of Signing?
Although quality of character isn’t something that’s found in your DNA, being big and tall is. As with most junior hockey players, getting bigger, stronger and faster is always on the top of their to-do lists and this includes Amadio. “He’s still a pretty lean guy and he needs to bulk out a bit and get bigger…” says Butler. Slowly, but surely, he’s putting on the pounds. “It’s not going quick for him, but it’s going in the right direction.”
Is this enough progress to get Amadio into the NHL though? Will his weight play a role in whether or not he’ll sign an NHL contract with the LA Kings? “I don’t think so,” says Butler. “What I see in NHL teams is, they like to see improvement. So if they come in at 16 and they’re good and they get better every year – I think if they do that, they’re happy with that. He’s had that improvement every year.”
It’s becoming increasingly important for aspiring NHL players to have consistent, top-tier work ethic because parity amongst players is at an all-time high. No longer is offensive talent alone relevant in today’s ever changing game.
I’m a Hockey Journalist based out of Barrie, Ontario, a Contributing Writer for The Hockey Writers covering OHL, and NHL prospects with an insatiable thirst for all things LA Kings, and PR gal for Abel Sports Management.