As the Toronto Maple Leafs head into the home stretch of their season, their primary focus is on the NHL playoffs. There is just over one month left in the regular season with 17 games remaining for Toronto.
Toronto is in a battle for 2nd place in the Atlantic Division with the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning. The standings are so close that it will likely take until the last game of the season to know which teams will finish 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.
Finding success in the playoffs is the top priority for the Toronto Maple Leafs. For Toronto GM Kyle Dubas and his staff, the playoffs are only one of their priorities. One of their other priorities is building and planning for the future.
Another important job for any GM is drafting, developing, and signing prospects for the future. The Maple Leafs have some exciting news regarding two of their prospects. Here is a look at Toronto’s most recent prospects news.
Toronto Maple Leafs Prospects Update
On Saturday, March 26th, the Maple Leafs announced that the team signed prospect Nick Abruzzese to a two-year, entry-level contract. The contract is for the current 2021-22 season and the 2022-23 season. The contract has a salary cap hit of $850,000 with a base salary of $765,000 and an $85,000 signing bonus.
Abruzzese recorded nine goals and 24 assists for 33 points in 29 games as the captain of Harvard University in the NCAA. He did not play during the 2020-21 season due to the pandemic. In his first season with Harvard in the 2019-20 season, Abruzzese recorded 14 goals and 30 assists for 44 points in 31 games.
Toronto Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe announced on Sunday that Abruzzese would join the team in Boston on Tuesday, March 29th. It is unknown if he will be in the lineup when Toronto plays Boston that night, but it will be good for him to be around the team.
Matthew Knies is a much-talked-about prospect of the Toronto Maple Leafs. It is no secret that other teams asked Toronto about Knies at the NHL trade deadline. Kyle Dubas was wise in saying that Knies was not available.
The 19-year-old Knies registered 13 goals and 18 assists for 31 points in 31 games this season with the University of Minnesota. He is currently taking part in the NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament. On Sunday, Knies scored his 2nd goal of the tournament and helped Minnesota beat Western Michigan 3-0. The win helped Minnesota advance to the NCAA Frozen Four.
He will likely join Abruzzese in signing an entry-level contract this season but will have to wait until his NCAA season is officially over. Toronto Maple Leafs fans will have to wait a little longer to see if Knies will join the team before the NHL playoffs.
Leafs GM Kyle Dubas was wise in making sure he left a few contract spaces open to fit Abruzzese and Knies within the 50 contracts limit. It will be interesting to see where these prospects will fit into the lineup. Knies could provide Toronto with a Michael Bunting type of player to play in Toronto’s top six. Maybe not right away, but at some point. He can score, pass, hit and block shots, so it is no surprise that he would be fast-tracked onto the Maple Leafs lineup.