It has been eleven days since the Leafs handed out Qualifying Offers to three players who had Restricted Free Agent status on the team. The most talked about is of course goalie Ilya Samsonov who then elected to go to salary arbitration, which has now been scheduled for next week.
The Leafs and Samsonov can of course still make a deal together on their own at any point right up to the start of that arbitration hearing, but once it starts they are bound to the ruling of the arbitrator. Note if you have missed the change, players and teams did used to have one last chance to make a deal of their own in the hours after the arbitration hearing was over but before the ruling was delivered, but a change made to the CBA in 2020 ended that practice. Once the arbitrator joins that Microsoft Teams meeting—I assume they aren't still making people fly to New York City to do these literally in person—he has the only say on the final contract.
Back to those QOs; another of the three was given to Semyon Der-Arguchintsev who is reported to have chosen instead to return home to Russia and play for Torpedo in the KHL, though because the Leafs made the QO they will retain his NHL contract rights for many years to come, so the 22 year-old can always return here in the future.
That leaves one more player sitting out there with an offer but no signed contract: Nick Abruzzese. The Leafs were able to give him a standard QO of $803,250 and a two-way deal, but since Abruzzese doesn't have any arbitration rights the ball is really in the Leafs court here if he wants to negotiate for more.
We ranked the him at #8 in our Top 25 Under 25 last summer, which by the way we will be starting up again this August.
Because of the NHL electing to skip participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Tokyo, Abruzzese was one of the NCAA college hockey players elected by USA Hockey to join their team. He went over with star Leafs prospect Matthew Knies.
I like him and I think he's got a chance at a job here, or somewhere. There's definitely teams out there where he would easily make the bottom-six of the roster. He's not a fast skater overall, but he's got that brief explosive speed to take off on a breakaway, which is probably because he has thighs that would make even William Nylander stop to gawk at. The man's body weight is 50% located in his upper legs by my admittedly rough estimate.
He also has a decent shot.
I don't think there's any realistic change he's making the Leafs out of training camp, especially given the recent signings, but he should be front of the line for a call-up though as noted above he's probably also front of the line as a chip to be added to a trade to a team that can use him immediately, at least once he actually signs a contract.
The ECHL is expanding in Colorado and an famous/infamous NFL football player is funding it.
The Marlies reupped one player on a new contract
Enjoy your Tuesday.