Leafs sign Hobey Baker finalist

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:19 PM ET

TORONTO - Hamilton won’t get an NHL team to prod the stalled Maple Leafs, but a good Hamilton-born prospect has joined the Toronto organization.

Spencer Abbott, the NCAA’s top points producer with the Maine Black Bears and a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, was signed to a one-year entry level contract on Wednesday. At the same time, the 23-year-old left winger agreed to an amateur tryout with the AHL Toronto Marlies and will be eligible for the Calder Cup playoffs.

“We’re very excited,” said vice-president of hockey operations Dave Poulin. “He’s a top-six, highly-skilled winger, who combines that with a great work ethic. He is a terrific passer with great vision.”

Not the biggest bear in the cave at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, Abbott did have 62 points for Maine, including 41 assists.

He was the Hockey East player of the year and during his four seasons and 151 games at the school, tallied 54 goals, 92 assists and had 66 penalty minutes. He set a school record with goals 10 seconds apart in 2010-11. Abbott worked out with ex-Leaf Gary Roberts this past summer.

Leaf general manager Brian Burke is hoping such hidden gems emerge to bolster his roster in 2012-13, in case he hits a wall with free agents in the summer. Burke has had some hits and misses in the NCAA free agent pool. Tyler Bozak, who has been the first line centre for a couple of years, came from the University of Denver, while emerging goaltending prospect Ben Scrivens was plucked from Cornell. Forwards Christian Hanson and Brayden Irwin were signings that didn’t work out.

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca


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