The Maple Leafs have signed their 2013 third-round selection, centerman Carter Verhaeghe, to a three-year entry level contract as well as an amateur tryout contract to join the Marlies for the remainder of the season.

His Niagara Ice Dogs recently lost out in 7-games to the North Bay Battalion in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Verhaeghe started the season with 44 points in his first 28 games of 2013-14 and was in the mix of the OHL scoring race in the first half of his season. He cooled off a little down the stretch with 38 points in his final 37. His 82 points were good enough for 21st in OHL scoring, ahead of first-round drafted forwards from his draft class Jason Dickinson, Bo Horvat and Ryan Hartman. It was his third OHL season, but Verheaghe is still 18-years-old and will be until August (one of the younger members of his draft class).

In the end-of-season Eastern Conference coaches poll, Verhaeghe was voted among the Conference’s smartest players behind Sam Bennett of Kingston and Scott Laughton of Oshawa.

Verheaghe played the majority of the season with projected first round selection in 2014 Brendan Perlini, who finished 31st in OHL scoring with 71 points in his sophomore OHL campaign. The pair ripped up the League in the first month especially, including a five-point game each against Owen Sound.

[pull_quote_center]Thirdly, there’s Carter Verhaeghe, who is playing in Niagara. He’s a lot like Josh Leivo at the same age. Carter’s not strong yet, but he will be. He’s wired just like Josh; he’s got quick thoughts, he’s got high-end skill sets, he’s got great hockey sense, great playmaking ability, and he understands the game. He should have a huge year in Niagara, and he will have a huge year in Niagara. He’s going to play in all situations.- Jim Hughes, Maple Leafs Hot Stove, September 2013[/pull_quote_center]

Verhaeghe added two goals and two assists in 6 playoff games. Niagara was the 7th seed and did well to take 2nd-placed North Bay the full distance. One of Verhaeghe’s playoff tallies was a game winner late on in Game 2:

It’s always a cool thing to see an Ontario-born kid sign his first NHL contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Congrats to Carter. All the more reason to head down to the Ricoh with the Maple Leafs unlikely to factor into any hockey games past next week.

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