Insider shares big update on NCAA standout Cade Webber and the Leafs

Mike Armenti
April 18, 2024  (12:08)

6-foot-7 Leafs defensive prospect Cade Webber
Photo credit: Boston University Athletics

Officially locked into a 1st round series against the Boston Bruins for the first time since 2019, the Toronto Maple Leafs appear to be on the cusp of announcing some big news regarding newly-acquired defenseman Cade Webber ahead of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Last week, The Athletic's Joe Smith printed a pre-emptive report about the Leafs signing Webber to a multi-year contract, which made the move sound like it was imminent. However, as the season comes to a close, Webber had yet to put pen to paper on his ELC.
On Wednesday night in Tampa Bay, Webber was reportedly in the house to watch the Leafs take on the Lightning in their season finale. On Thursday, trusted NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman added some fuel to the fire when he tweeted out that Webber and the Leafs are expected to finalize the deal "shortly", presumably meaning today.
**Entry-level contract for Webber now confirmed, per TSN's Chris Johnston. The AAV is $875K.**
Webber is coming off of a record-setting season in the NCAA, having posted 133 blocked shots for Boston University - a feat which has never been done before in a single NCAA season. This honour was just one of the reasons why he was named the best defensive defenseman in the NCAA's Hockey East.
Last year, we saw the Leafs ink University of Minnesota standout Matthew Knies to an entry-level contract and give him a 3-game trial run at the end of the season before also rostering the rookie forward in the playoffs. We are unlikely to see the Leafs do the same with Webber, however. Defensemen tend to take longer to develop and adjust to the NHL game and while Webber is an outstanding defensive prospect, the Leafs' upcoming playoff run is too important to take a gamble on a rookie defenseman - even one as impressive as Webber.
The 6'7 defenseman is a left shot, and the Leafs happen to be particularly deep on that left side, with the likes of Morgan Rielly, Simon Benoit, T.J. Brodie, Jake McCabe, Mark Giordano and Joel Edmundson all shooting left. Webber may be a talented young blueliner, but he does not jump ahead of any of these players on the depth chart.
The more likely scenario for Webber is that he joins the Toronto Marlies for their upcoming playoff run. I'd imagine that the plan is to get him acclimated with his new teammates and the new system prior to giving him a look on the ice, but with just a couple of games left for the Marlies on the docket, Webber may end up in a trial by fire situation. We've already seen fellow NCAA standout Jacob Quillan debut with the Marlies mere days after he was signed, so we shouldn't be too surprised if the plan is to have Webber make his pro debut this weekend with the Marlies.
A pure defensive defenseman, Webber tallied just 6 assists in 38 games with the Terriers this season.
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Insider shares big update on NCAA standout Cade Webber and the Leafs

How many games do you think Cade Webber plays for the Maple Leafs next season?

Zero8020.2 %
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