The Toronto Maple Leafs will be shedding one prospect from their system in about a week and a half. The blue and white will be parting ways from forward Dominic Toninato upon his eligibility for unrestricted free agency on August 15th.
Former UMD captain Dominic Toninato says he won't be signing with Toronto, will become free agent on August 15.
— Zach Schneider (@zschneiderKBJR) July 4, 2017
Toninato mentioned that the driving factor behind the mutual decision is a lack of NHL contract space. Depending on who you ask or where you read (in other words, if you count unsigned RFAs or not), the Leafs are at somewhere around 46-49 contracts out of a maximum 50, without a ton left to do. Perhaps this makes it an internal quota, or it’s the Leafs making an excuse for only wanting to offer him an AHL contract, which he has had no interest in taking throughout the whole process.
With that said, this isn’t a massive loss for the Leafs. Toninato is already 23 years old and despite that, wasn’t able to hit a point-per-game at the college ranks in any of his four seasons with University of Minnesota-Duluth, and while ranking 5th in team scoring this year is a good showing at that level, it’s not encouraging to his NHL odds as a Draft+4.
While there might be a chance of him becoming an NHL player at some point (pGPS has him at about 3%), Toronto’s depth chart has ballooned exponentially since he was drafted in 2012 and, quite frankly, pushed him out of the conversation. Losing a prospect on paper is a shame on the surface, but the reason why it has to happen is reflective of good things happening within the organization.
For his sake, I hope Toninato finds a team that will offer him his sought-after ELC. If nothing else, he’ll at least be solid AHL depth for a team with shallower cupboards, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he was able to get what he’s looking for.