On Wednesday (after April Fools ended at noon), the Leafs announced the Entry-Level Contract signings for left-handed defensemen Kristians Rubins and Filip Kral. Rubins was an undrafted rookie with the Toronto Marlies and earned a two-year deal with the Leafs. Kral was a fifth-round pick in 2018 and was nearly a point per game with WHL Spokane.

Rubins, as a rookie in the ECHL, scored the first goal in Newfoundland Growlers history, and helped them win the Kelly Cup in their inaugural season.

Kral will get his first bit of pro action next season and has shown some good tools in junior hockey. He’s definitely a project the Marlies will enjoy working with.

Fulemin has the full story below. We’re trying to get to 300 comments.

“Obviously getting carried away with undrafted 22-year-olds is generally a mistake, but it is impressive how Rubins has managed to rise from the ECHL to the AHL to gaining an NHL contract. Kyle Dubas has spoken before about his desire to build a tri-level development system for the Leafs, and while it’s borne limited NHL fruit just yet—Mason Marchment, since traded to Florida, is the current best outcome—it is encouraging for the team to use every means at its disposal to develop talent.”

Leafs Sign Filip Kral, Kristians Rubins to Entry-Level Contracts

Beyond these two, Nick Robertson and Mikhail Abramov also got ELCs this season. That leaves forward Riley Stotts and goaltender Zachary Bouthillier on the Leafs reserve list whose rights are expiring on June 1st. Stotts is most likely going to get an NHL or AHL contract, it’s a little harder to know what the deal will be for Bouthillier as a goaltender behind both Joseph Woll and Ian Scott.

Oh, and Miro Aaltonen turns 27 on June 30th and will be a UFA if he ever wants to come back to the NHL and not to the Leafs. The Leafs have 32 players on the 50-man roster with nine RFAs, and 10 UFAs pending this summer, whenever that is.

Who will the Leafs sign before the June 1st deadline?

Riley Stotts170
Zachary Bouthillier11

Leafy Branches

The Leafs released another episode of The Blueprint, this one focusing on the NHL All Star Weekend with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and Frederik Andersen in St. Louis.

Kyle Dubas is continuing his bromance with Max Kerman of the Arkells, they’re going on an Instagram Live at 6pm together today.

Oh, and Kyle has been having lots of fun on Netflix. I can definitely see an Office episode with all the people in the Leafs front office.

Other Branches

Four more Ottawa Senators players tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday. The team also made sure to say that all the players who required isolation have fully recovered from the virus.

Lauren at our sister site Raw Charge has been doing a daily series about the 2021 NHL draft class (the one after this one). She’s been identifying some really talented prospects who could fly under the radar should they have an underwhelming draft season next year.

21 Days of 2021 NHL Draft Prospects: #18 — Francesco Pinelli

Old friend Connor Carrick has got...moves.

#BREAKING: Cody Hodgson is Harry Potter. Those paragraphs from Drance were a journey.

The Seattle NHL team wants to host the 2021 NHL Draft ahead of their inaugural season. They might get the NHL Awards, too, as it’ll include the Expansion Draft. Get ready for media stories about Seattle bars, they’re going to spend the entire month of June there.

Seattle could host the 2021 NHL Draft before its inaugural season

The Professional Hockey Players Association and the ECHL have announced a relief fund for their ECHL players, who lost out on critical salaries after the ECHL cancelled their season.

“The ECHL cancelled the 2019-20 season effective Monday, March 16, 2020, whereby over 600 players were advised to return to their home territory, many of them losing the opportunity to earn additional salary and playoff bonuses. All players and their families will receive health insurance through June 30th, however the unplanned cancellation of the season will affect certain players harder than others during these uncertain times. The ECHL-PHPA COVID-19 Relief Fund will be administered by directors from both organizations to ensure funds are disbursed to Players accordingly.”

PHPA and ECHL Announce Relief Fund for ECHL Players

This is not hockey related, but this was my favourite April Fools prank.