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Prospect signings: Avs ink Joey Hishon, Leafs lock up Jake Gardiner

Mar 15, 2011, 12:23 PM EDT

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2010 NHL Draft Portraits Getty Images

With hockey’s version of March Madness* culminating in the Frozen Four this month, it’s about that time when teams start locking up college players, 2010 first round draft picks who must be signed and other prospects.

* – Actually, I think that the World Junior Championship tournament might be a better “answer” to the NCAA’s wildly hyped tournament because it features a greater collection of future talent, but the Frozen Four is still all about American colleges just like the Final Four. Ultimately, it’s all about how you look at it.

Let’s take a look at two prospect signings that might make a difference for the future of two NHL teams.

  • The Anaheim Ducks also sent a conditional fourth round pick and perennial trade victim Joffrey Lupul to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Francois Beauchemin swap, but Jake Gardiner was probably the biggest asset in the deal for the Leafs. In fact, Leafs GM Brian Burke drafted the speedy defenseman when he was the Ducks GM, so you know that familiarity factored into that move.

Michael Russo reports that the Leafs signed Gardiner to an entry-level contract. Gardiner has been a point-per-game player during his junior season with the University of Wisconsin.

  • Adrian Dater passes along word that the Colorado Avalanche have come to terms with 2010 first round draft pick Joey Hishon. The 17th pick of the draft will finish the season with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack. He has 36 goals and 47 assists for 83 points in 46 games in the OHL this season.
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  2. J. Harding (1830)
  3. J. Thornton (1810)
  4. J. Giguere (1588)
  5. A. Semin (1531)
  1. J. Spezza (1523)
  2. C. MacArthur (1506)
  3. M. Staal (1467)
  4. S. Crosby (1163)
  5. R. Johansen (1145)