Last season was a write-off for Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Nick Abruzzese as he had summer hip surgery take him out for the entire season, as well as the pandemic shutting down shutting down the hockey season for him at Harvard anyway. This year, both he and the team are back, with Abruzzese, now 22, set to co-captain the team with undrafted senior Casey Dornbach.

Abruzzese is an important prospect for the Leafs for many reasons. Along with being a fourth round pick in 2019 and a promising prospect to keep an eye on in the near future, he was one of the rare NCAA prospects the team had taken in recent memory at the time.

In the five-year span between 2014 and 2019, the Leafs had only taken two prospects that developed through college: Joseph Woll and JD Greenway via the USNTDP in 2016. The Leafs picked exclusively from the CHL during that period, with the odd Swede or Russian mixed in.

But after taking the very promising Abruzzese, as well as Mike Koster, the Leafs have taken six more NCAA-committed prospects in the last two drafts, including their top prospect this summer in Matthew Knies, as well as a very exciting Finn named Veeti Miettinen.

We hope Nick has a healthy and exciting season, and that he does his best in the leadership position he has on his team. Fingers crossed for an NHL debut in 2023?

Top 25 Under 25: Nick Abruzzese makes his debut at #13

Various Leafs and Branches

Joey Duszak is back on a one-year, two-way deal | by: Katya
The Leafs made this official today.

How bad teammates can disrupt dressing rooms, team chemistry | by: Sportsnet
Justin Bourne kind of missed the forest for the trees when talking about players who are “jerks,” but he makes a generally interesting point. It’s very interesting — but somewhat unsurprising — to hear that all off-ice “problems” big or small can be lumped together. Justin could also read these tweets on the topic of giving certain people second chances (I’m pretty sure DeAngelo is on his fifth?)

Pale Dragon is a Twitter account that decided to doodle all the SBN NHL logos. Their masterpiece is the Stanley Cup riding a Jetski (you can guess who that’s for), and their choice for us is Kermit the Frog with a calculator and a bag of money. Accurate.

Dom L broke down all the offseason moves for each team using this handy graph. My assumption for why the Leafs are spending less this season is because this is looking at the end of the season Leafs roster that included all the trade deadline additions (Foligno, Rittich, Nash). The Leafs aren’t going into next season $5 million under the cap, nor did they spend over the cap last season.

Also, Dom’s model can’t help but overrate the impacts of Michael Bunting because of his tiny sample size, so if you take both that and the salary change, the Leafs pretty much stayed the same. What else could they have done with the contract structure they’re under? The fact that they didn’t get worse after losing an underpaid Hyman kind of makes this summer a mild success. I’m still not satisfied, for the record, but what can I do about it.

The AHL has a new playoff format this season, where everyone is allowed to call themselves a playoff team. Especially the folks out in the Pacific.

And finally, in contract news, the New Jersey Devils signed Tomas Tatar and the Nashville Predators re-signed Dante Fabbro.

And good luck to Canada’s soccer team as they play for gold this morning at 8am ET at the Olympics.