According to Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star, the Toronto Maple Leafs will not be offering prospect Dominic Toninato an entry-level contract, thus making him an unrestricted free agent on August 15.
The Leafs originally drafted the Duluth, MN native in the fifth-round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, but will not officially bring him into the organization. Toninato finished up his college career at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, serving as team captain in his senior year, where he finished with 54 goals and 91 points in 151 games.
“It’s not that he doesn’t want to sign with the Leafs, but he didn’t get that option,” Toninato’s agent Neil Sheehy told The Star. “There’s no other choice but to become a free agent on Aug. 15.”
The biggest reason the Leafs cannot offer him a deal is because they are close to the limit of 50 professional contracts. They currently have 48 players under contract and still have to work out a deal with restricted free agent Connor Brown. According to Sheehy, the Leafs offered an AHL contract, but were not willing to go the NHL route.
“The Leafs have been very successful very early in their rebuilding process,” said Sheehy, “and with that success comes hard decisions especially when you only have 50 contract spots.”
There is the possibility that he Leafs could trade Toninato’s rights, but it is doubtful any team would give up a late round pick for player there is no guarantee they will sign and will be a free agent in just over a month.