The Toronto Maple Leafs have officially announced contracts for several players:
- Pontus Aberg: One year, $700K AAV
- Kenny Agostino: Two years, $738K AAV
- Tyler Gaudet: One year, two-way, $700K AAV, $300K AHL salary per PuckPedia
- Kalle Kossila: Two years, two-way, $700K AAV
- Nick Shore: One year, $750K AAV
- Garrett Wilson: One year, $725K AAV
- Kevin Gravel: One year, $700K AAV
There had been previous reporting about several of these deals, but the contracts were likely being held back because of the situation with Mitch Marner. The Maple Leafs needed to protect themselves against a potential offer sheet, something they can still now do following yesterday’s acquisition of David Clarkson. The Clarkson and Nathan Horton contracts that are headed for long-term injured reserve at some point give the team some added flexibility, but also require certain conditions to be met. In order to take full effect of the LTIR provision a team needs to be as close to the cap as possible, something the Maple Leafs will do with paper transactions involving players like this.
In fact, none of these seven may end up on the NHL roster to start the year. Any of them certainly could carve out a role for themselves in training camp and impress the coaching staff, but the Maple Leafs already had enough players to fill out a roster before announcing any of these deals. In reality they will serve as valuable depth for a team that expects to contend for the Stanley Cup, something head coach Mike Babcock was critical of a few months ago, explaining that other teams had done a better job of insulating the roster from injury.
Aberg, one of the players that had not been previously linked to the Maple Leafs, is also one of the more interesting additions. The 25-year old was selected 37th overall in 2012 by the Nashville Predators and at one point looked like an up-and-coming option for them. After scoring 31 goals in 56 games in the AHL during the 2016-17 season, Aberg was an impact player during the Predators’ playoff run, scoring a Bobby Orr-esque game-winner against the Anaheim Ducks in the Conference Finals. Unfortunately things didn’t continue on that upward swing and he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in 2018 only to find himself suit up for two other teams in the period since.
Gaudet too is an interesting name to see come across the wire, if only because of his connection with Toronto GM Kyle Dubas. Gaudet played two years for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL while Dubas was the GM there, before ultimately starting his professional career with the Portland Pirates. Dubas would be intimately familiar with Gaudet’s strengths and weaknesses, as would Toronto Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe who was also with the Greyhounds at the time.
The final name that hadn’t been previously reported is Kossila, who spent most of the 2018-19 season with the San Diego Gulls of the AHL. The undrafted forward out of St. Cloud State has 19 NHL games under his belt but has been an excellent offensive player at the minor league level. At very worst he will give the Marlies some more punch up front.
All seven players will require waivers in order to be assigned to the minor leagues, though after inking so many of them the risk of losing some depth at that point is minimal. The Maple Leafs are once again flexing their financial might in many of these cases, offering one-way contracts to players who may have not otherwise received them.