At least three things caught my eye about the fact that Pontus Aberg was left off the Maple Leafs postseason roster. First, I had come to know Aberg as a player in 2017-18 when he came to the Edmonton Oilers at the end of the season. I thought he played well and was surprised when he didn’t stick with the Oilers then.
Second, I had followed his career a bit and perked up when he was signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs in a general manager Kyle Dubas’ depth-forward shopping-spree at the end of the 2018-19 season.
Third, the Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston had written a really nice article about Aberg in mid-December of 2019 talking about Aberg’s attention for his three-year-old daughter and why he chose to play in Toronto rather than anywhere else for the 2019-20 season.
The simple answer is that if Aberg played with the Maple Leafs he could live in his apartment in Toronto, and if he moved down to the Marlies he could live in that same apartment. Both teams even share some of the same facilities and moving down to the minors from Toronto isn’t much of a move at all.
Aberg Had His Chances with the Maple Leafs
When Andreas Johnsson went down this past December season with an injury, Aberg was called up to the Maple Leafs and played five games with the Maple Leafs. Sadly for him, he couldn’t repeat the success he’d had with the Marlies.
That lack of success undoubtedly sealed his deal and Aberg came to realize he was not going to have much of a shot with the Maple Leafs so is now taking a chance with a team in the KHL.
Aberg on His Way to the KHL
As a result, because Aberg signed a one-year contract with Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL, he was left off the roster. After the suspension of regular-season play, there had been rumors Aberg was offered a KHL contract, but it wasn’t clear where.
Traktor Chelyabinsk is still in Russia, but much further east than Moscow. So, it’s a long way from home for Aberg. There are few North Americans and even Swedes on the Traktor roster.
Though he played only five games in a Maple Leafs sweater this season, the 26-year old Aberg dominated at the minor league level once again. Scoring 20 goals and 44 points in 55 games for the Toronto Marlies, it was easy to expect his name as a reserve option for the upcoming tournament. Instead, the two sides will part ways with Aberg heading to Russia. You have to think that he’ll try one more time to crack the NHL.
Aberg’s Time in the NHL
The Predators chose 26-year old Aberg during the second round (37th overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Not only was he a promising young forward with an offensive upside, he actually was a difference-maker for one shining season with the Predators.
During that 2016-17 playoffs, he surprisingly assumed a larger role on the injury-riddled Predators and helped them reach the Stanley Cup Finals. However, since that time, he’s bounced around the NHL. In total, during his NHL career, he played 132 regular-season games.
We wish Aberg good luck in the KHL. Should the Maple Leafs wish to retain Aberg’s rights, the can issue him a qualifying offer this summer. However, that seems unlikely. Although it will be more difficult to follow Aberg’s career in the KHL, it will be fun to see if he attempts another comeback with an NHL team somewhere in the future.
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