The Toronto Maple Leafs put pen to paper on an entry-level contract with Nick Abruzzese as he will leave Harvard to make the jump to professional hockey.
As the regular season winds down, the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t done making additions as they have signed prospect Nick Abruzzese to a two-year, entry-level deal.
Abruzzese is expected to join the Leafs sometime next week after his NCAA season with Harvard came to an end. He was named the Ivy League Player of the Year after he had 33 points in 28 games.
The 22-year-old also played for Team USA at the Beijing Olympics where he had four points in four games. Now, the Leafs will see if he is ready for the jump to professional hockey.
We started to hear about Abruzzese’s name not too long ago as Kyle Dubas had a glowing review of his game. Some will look at the fact that he’s 5-5oot-10, 174 pounds but you get the feeling the Leafs wouldn’t have been in a rush to sign him if they didn’t think he wouldn’t be ready to turn pro.
When it comes to determining when Abruzzese will make his NHL debut? Like most NHL teams do with their college free agents, generally they get to play in at least one game and burn a year off their ELC which is part of the way teams entice the player to leave the NCAA.
The Leafs also left the door open for Abruzzese and potentially Matthew Knies to make their way to the team after clearing some contract space with a few trades. There was also the possibility that Toronto could bring in a couple of players playing on AHL deals like Josh Ho-Sang but the team certainly wants to see what upside their college prospects can provide.
While there is no certainty that Knies agrees to join the Leafs, it is certainly a situation fans will be keeping an eye on.
What are your thoughts on Abruzzese putting pen to paper on a contract? Do you expect him to be a contributor down the stretch? Let us know in the comments below.