Today the Toronto Maple Leafs have signed Nick Abruzzese to a two-year ELC. ELC length is governed by age at signing. The AAV is $850,000.

“As an organization, we’re very thankful to Harvard head coach Ted Donato and his staff for their job developing Nick,” said Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas. “Harvard’s academic reputation precedes itself but is also an elite hockey development program as evidenced by the number of players they have developed into National Hockey League players.”

Abruzzese, 22 (soon to be 23) was drafted in 2019 in the fourth round, out of Chicago Steel of the USHL. He has since been at Harvard for three years, playing two. His 2020-2021 season was cancelled. He finishes his career in the NCAA as the co-captain of his team with 33 points in 28 games played. He also appeared at the Olympics for Team USA, playing on the nominal second line with Matt Knies.

With Harvard now out of this year’s NCAA playoffs, Abruzzese faced decision time, and he’s chosen to go pro.

He is the classic 5’10” Maple Leafs/Chicago Steel player, and he most resembles a former Harvard Captain, Alexander Kerfoot. Both players are pass-focused distributer centres who also play well as wingers as long as someone on their line is there to score the goals.

At this year’s deadline, Kyle Dubas chose to not sign Josh Ho-Sang or other AHL-contracted players to NHL deals. He also opened up three SPC slots with trades both before and after March 21. He clearly had a plan to add players off the reserve list, and this is the first one.

Abruzzese, as a drafted prospect, is fully eligible to play with the Leafs now and in the playoffs, and this, of course, counts as the first year of his ELC. His deal expires in the summer of 2023, and he will be an RFA without arbitration rights.

Welcome to the team, Nick.