Report: Prospect has ‘no other choice’ but to leave Leafs

He’ll hit the open market in August and will have no shortage of offers.

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Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Dominic Toninato has rejected the team’s AHL contract offer and will hit the open market as an unrestricted free-agent on August 15th. Toronto reporter and Maple Leafs insider Kevin McGran uncovered the story for his latest article in the Toronto Star.

Drafted in the 5th round (126th overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Brian Burke led Maple Leafs, Toninato recently completed his fourth season with the University of Minnesota-Duluth scoring 16 goals and 29 points in 42 games. The 6’2”, 190 lb centerman’s preferred route was to sign an NHL contract with the Leafs at the conclusion of his college career, but because the team had handcuffed themselves by offering so many contracts in free-agency, the only option was to come to a minor-league agreement. Obviously Toninato and his agent Neil Sheehy found this unacceptable and, as a result, Toninato will sign elsewhere later in the summer.

“It’s not that he doesn’t want to sign with the Leafs, but he didn’t get that option,” said Sheehy. “There’s no other choice but to become a free agent on Aug. 15. He likes Toronto and would have signed with Toronto, but they were not able to do anything.”

What do you think of this Leafs fans? Is this the first real mis-step by the Leafs’ new regime? Brendan Shanahan and Lou Lamoreillo have been shrewd negotiators and have practiced excellent asset management since taking over in Toronto, so this move seems completely out of character for the group.