Leafs Pitching Hard for Black Bear Star
Spencer Abbott hasn't signed with the Maple Leafs. But word is he's close.
The star forward with the NCAA Maine Black Bears, who were eliminated by the University of Minnesota-Duluth this week, is being aggressively courted by a number of teams and is apparently leaning towards Toronto, although its not a done deal.
(Ed note: It is now a done deal as of about 4:30 ET. Abbott is now a Leaf, although he will report for the rest of this season to the AHL Marlies.)
At 23 and 5-foot-10, the right-handed shooting forward isn't exactly what the doctor ordered for what ails the Leafs. But he's highly skilled, was named Hockey East's player-of-the-year this season and - be still my heart - is from Ontario. Hamilton, to be precise, and he lists the Leafs as his favourite team.
The Leafs have been aggressive in the NCAA free agent market in recent years but have only unearthed one bona fide NHLer, Tyler Bozak, so far. Still, signing such players is cheaper than a draft pick, and the success of Bozak and Teddy Purcell in Tampa (signed originally by L.A.) suggests sometimes its worth the effort. Goalie Ben Scrivens was also a college free agent and he played a few games for the Leafs this season.
Abbott had 62 points in 39 games this season and is one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. He played Jr. A for the Hamilton Red Wings. If signed, he could head immediately to the AHL Marlies.
The Leafs had interest in another U.S. college free agent, Dan Dekeyser of Western Michigan, but he has apparently decided to go back to school.
Related: More on Spencer Abbott.