Today it was leaked that the Toronto Maple Leafs signed their 2015 draft pick Jeremy Bracco to an entry level deal:
The #leafs have signed Jeremy Bracco to a three-year, entry-level contract.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 21, 2017
Bracco spoke with PPP after the draft in 2015 and wanted everyone to know he’d be on the Maple Leafs one day, and saw a bright future for the team:
For Bracco, that the team hasn't won is just more fuel, something added to accomplish.
"They're trying to turn the franchise around to become a winning team," Bracco said, mentioning Mike Babcock, William Nylander and Mitch Marner as reasons to be excited about the new direction. "It’s special to be a part of it."
"Anytime you win the Stanley Cup is special but doing it in the city of Toronto that hasn’t won since 1967, it’ll be a cool experience for sure," he added, as if he was confident it was going to happen. "Playing in Toronto and doing it there would be really special."
...Anybody would sign up to play for the Leafs if given the chance, he said.
"The Leafs were in the back of my mind as one of those storied franchises that would be great to be a part of and part of something that they’re rebuilding and becoming better with the younger players," Bracco said. "I’m just happy to be a part of that."
The Leafs were direct in Bracco's first conversations with Mike Babcock and Brendan Shanahan and their staff though.
"They said 'welcome and the work just starts now and what you do to get here is great and all but you’re going to have to double the workload to be back,' " Bracco said, adding that the team told him that come mini camp he would be provided with nutritionists and trainers and "all the resources" he needed to become an NHL player for the franchise.
Drafted out of the USNTDP in 2015, Bracco was committed to Boston College, but played just five games in the NCAA before withdrawing from the program and joining the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers.
Through 2015/16 and this season, Bracco played 76 games for the Rangers, and scored 38 goals, and 77 assists in Kitchener, averaging 1.5 points per game. At this years OHL trade deadline, he was sent to the Memorial Cup host Windsor Spitfires, and while he was slow to start in his new city, he finished the regular season with eight goals, 24 assists, in the final 30 games.
Career Stats via EliteProspects.com
|2009-2010||Long Island Gulls Bantam Minor||AYMBHL||28||34||41||75||4|
|2010-2011||Long Island Gulls Bantam Major||AYBHL||31||25||42||67||6|
|2011-2012||Long Island Gulls Bantam Major||AYBHL||28||26||49||75||26|
|Elite Hockey Group||OHL Cup||5||3||5||8||0|
|2012-2013||Elite Hockey Group||OHL Cup||4||6||2||8||2|
|New Jersey Rockets||MetJHL||10||9||15||24||0|
|New Jersey Rockets||AtJHL||30||16||34||50||24|
|U.S. National U17 Team||USDP||54||16||58||74||20|
|U.S. National U18 Team||USDP||65||30||64||94||10|
At a Spitfires/Knights game a few weeks ago, JP brought up his contract status with the Leafs, and Bracco was focused on his OHL game, and not the NHL:
“Nope, none yet. Lou and I haven’t got to that. Just focusing on what I need to do to make the club. ... In the end, I’ve got to be better.”
“Obviously, my start in Windsor hasn’t been as good as it was in Kitchener, but I’ll just have to get acclimated to the different coaching, different systems, and obviously new linemates. It’s a bit of a change, but I think I’m making the right steps.”
Clearly, the Maple Leafs liked what they’ve seen.
Jeremy Bracco and the Windsor Spitfires will take on Maple Leafs prospects J.J. Piccinich and Nicolas Mattinen and the London Knights in round one of the OHL playoffs. The first game is Friday night in London. You can read a series preview here.