Top NCAA free agent Jacob Quillan reveals why he chose the Maple Leafs

Mike Armenti
April 5, 2024  (7:52 PM)

Jacob Quillan celebrates a huge goal for Quinnipiac
Photo credit: Quinnipiac University

Earlier this week, the Maple Leafs made a splash in the NCAA free agent market, signing Jacob Quillan to a 2-year entry-level deal. Now, we finally know why he chose to sign in Toronto.

Quillan, 22, spent the last 3 seasons with Quinnipac University, winning an NCAA championship last season. Unfortunately, a heartbreaking loss to Boston College last weekend eliminated the opportunity for Quinnipac to repeat, but it wasn't a total loss. The early exit allowed Quillan to ink his entry-level contract and sign an amateur tryout with the Toronto Marlies, where he's expected to play out the rest of the season.
Somewhat ironically, Quillan's game-winner in the NCAA championship game last year was the goal that ended Matthew Knies' season, allowing him to sign his ELC with the Leafs as well. Funny coincidence, that.
When the Leafs came calling on Monday, Quillan was admittedly surprised, but also elated. Why? Because the Dartmouth, NS native grew up a Maple Leafs fan.
"I watched Toronto growing up my whole life, so it's kind of a dream to sign here. Management and the staff was all really welcoming and it seemed like they wanted me here. So, I think it was a good fit. Just a dream come true. But [I'm] just looking forward to the next step and hopefully [I'll] become a Leaf one day."

Since he signed on Monday, there hasn't been a whole lot of chatter surrounding when we might see Quillan suit up for the Marlies, but today, we finally got our answer. Marlies head coach John Gruden revealed on Friday afternoon that we'll see the big center in the lineup tomorrow night.
Overall, Gruden seems to like what he's seen from Quillan via game tape. For obvious reasons, Gruden is looking forward to seeing what the 22-year-old forward has to offer a little closer up.
"He's a winner. That helps. He's played in a winning program that understands the importance of winning. And at this time of year, that's what we need.

[Quillan is a] big, strong guy who plays in straight lines. It looks like he has a good knack for the net, so again, we'll see what he's like tomorrow. It'll be exciting."

For now, Quillan's focus is on the opportunity that awaits him with the Marlies. He believes he has a lot to offer the team and revealed some of the things he thinks he can do to help the team win at this, the most important time of the year.
"I'll do anything to help the team win. Win draws, penalty kill. Just do the little things to put the guys in a better position and help the team win."

The 6-foot, 200-pound forward put together a solid season with Quinnipiac in 2023-24, racking up 17 goals and 46 points in 39 games. He can play both wing and center and is like a dog on the puck. This is a kid who I'm looking forward to watching and tracking his progress, as he is a very intriguing prospect for the Leafs.
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Top NCAA free agent Jacob Quillan reveals why he chose the Maple Leafs

Do you think Jacob Quillan is more likely to play wing or center if/when he finally reaches the NHL?

Center13427.8 %
Wing15131.3 %
I don't know enough about him to be honest19740.9 %
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