What newly-signed prospect Jacob Quillan brings to the Toronto Maple Leafs

Photo credit:via Quinnipiac University
Steven Ellis
23 days ago
For most, Collin Graf is the star college free agent pickup this year.
But many scouts believed that the NCAA UFA with the best chance of becoming a long-term NHLer was Jacob Quillan, who Toronto signed to an entry-level contract on Monday night.
Graf was the lead point producer for Quinnipiac over the past two years, but it was actually Quillan who scored the goal that gave the school its first-ever national title in 2023. Quillan was no slouch either, registering 93 points in 116 games over three seasons, including a career-best 46 points this past season.
Quillan is set to join the Toronto Marlies for the remainder of the season, allowing him to learn from pro coaches and get a firsthand look at pro hockey. The Marlies are in a playoff push right now, and adding Quillan gives them a chance to get a similar experience to Ryan Tverberg last year when he turned pro after his third year at the University of Connecticut.
So, what type of player is Quillan?
He’s a skillful setup guy, but his value will come from being a Swiss army knife in the bottom six. At 6-foot-1 and 201 pounds, he has a solid frame that, over time, he has used to leverage himself more to win puck battles.
Scouts love his hockey IQ. Quillan is an intelligent forward who won’t just make a pass to get the puck off his stick. The Dartmouth, Nova Scotia native is calculated in his decision-making, and with his high-end skating, he can make quick, decisive plays at a high velocity.
Quillan’s high top speed will come in handy because, while it’s obviously one of the most important elements of any hockey player at this point, it’s exceptionally important for a bottom-six forward. He wastes no time using his powerful stride to hit max speed and can start and stop on a dime. He’s not going to blow anyone away in 1-on-1 battles, but he’s more than capable of handling his own in the NHL.
The Leafs will likely try and utilize Quillan in a penalty-killer role, too. He coves a lot of space quickly, with scouts pointing out that he does an excellent job of taking away space quickly while the other team is still trying to just set things up. Quillan doesn’t give you much time or space to make plays happen, and that’s especially true late in a tight game.
Quillan is a competitive young man, as shown by how he seemed to elevate his play during the Bobcats’ run to the national title last season. He started his NCAA career as a fourth-liner but quickly established himself as the first-line come his sophomore campaign. He wasn’t gifted anything as an undrafted center – he had to work harder and prove to everyone he had a bright future ahead.
And that work ethic has paid off, including on the offensive side of things. Scoring in college is a totally different animal than doing it in the NHL, but Quillan has an excellent shot and works his tail off to make sure the puck gets on his stick.
As for Quillan’s future? You should fully expect him to fight for a roster spot at training camp. Noah Gregor, Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi are set to become UFAs this summer, but Gregor is the only reasonable player Quillan could replace. Quillan is a natural center, but he can play the wing if needed. If they go the center route, I’d argue he’s a solid replacement for David Kampf, although his deal runs until 2027 and he has a modified no-trade clause. Beyond that, there’s also Pontus Holmberg, but he’s an RFA after next season.
At the very least, Quillan, being 22 with three years of college experience, makes him a more suitable candidate for a bottom-six spot in the short term than, say, putting Fraser Minten in full-time next year. There’s no question Quillan has NHL potential, but you don’t waste his development by throwing him in a bottom-line scenario and limiting his ice time immediately.
As with all college hockey free-agent signings, keep your expectations low. We’re talking about late-bloomers that were passed over multiple times in the NHL Draft. But in Quillan’s case, he’s a cheap addition to a weak prospect pool that needed some extra depth, especially from a guy who could realistically become a full-time NHLer next year.
Low-risk, high-reward? Absolutely.

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