The Toronto Maple Leafs are keeping Josh Ho-Sang around.
The forward signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Marlies. The AHL-only deal allows the Maple Leafs to keep their eyes on the 25-year-old from Thornhill, Ontario.
"His maturity level just seemed to (go up) another notch in all areas," Maple Leafs captain John Tavares said to TSN of Ho-Sang during the second intermission of the team's pre-season game against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. "The way he carries himself, his approach on the ice, the consistency he's bringing and just simplifying his game a little bit."
By signing Ho-Sang to an AHL-only deal, the Maple Leafs are afforded some flexibility should the forward earn a spot with the NHL club.
Given his age and games played at the NHL level, Ho-Sang requires waivers should the Leafs send him down to the Marlies on an NHL contract. By signing Ho-Sang to an AHL-only deal, the Leafs can convert the deal to NHL-level contract down the road.
"You can tell that he's come here with a purpose of looking to improve his game," Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. "He's got to do the good things he's done here for a longer period of time and that level of consistency is something we're asking from all of our players."
Both situations require waivers, but only when the player is sent down. Had he been on an NHL-contract during training camp, he would be exposed if cut from the roster.
The Leafs did something similar with Rich Clune during the 2015-16 season. They signed him to an AHL deal before converting his deal to an NHL contract just before he made his Maple Leafs debut on Oct. 30, 2015 against the New York Rangers.
The Maple Leafs currently have 47 NHL contracts out of a possible 50 allowed in the collective bargaining agreement. By keeping Ho-Sang at an AHL-deal, it doesn't occupy one of those spots, allowing for increased flexibility in the event they need to add to their lineup.
Ho-Sang appeared in nine games this past season with Orebro HK and Linkoping HC of the Swedish Hockey League, recording two goals and one assist. He officially joined the Leafs on a professional tryout but had been training at the team's facility since July.
A first-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Ho-Sang has 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) in 53 career NHL games, all with the New York Islanders. In 178 career AHL games, Ho-Sang posted 30 goals and 93 assists with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and the San Antonio Rampage