Report: Earl to sign with Maple Leafs

Badger winger recently won Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player Award

Robbie Earl will forego his senior season at the University of Wisconsin and sign a three-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs today, according to a report in the Daily Breeze, a newspaper based in Torrance, Calif. Earl will be assigned to the Toronto Marlies, the Maple Leafs' affiliate in the American Hockey League. The AHL playoffs begin April 21.

"I think I'm ready," Earl told the newspaper by telephone. "It'll be tough leaving school behind, but I think I'm ready for that phase of my life."

Earl, a native of Westchester, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb, led the Badgers with 24 goals and was second on the team with 50 points.

Last weekend, Earl helped lead Wisconsin to its first national championship since 1990. He scored three goals and tallied an assist in two Frozen Four games and was named the Frozen Four's Most Outstanding Player.

An elite skater with good size and the skill set to be a special offensive player, Earl is ranked as the Maple Leafs No. 5 prospect, and No. 2 forward, according to Hockey's Future. He was a sixth-round selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

Earl arrived on the UW campus in the fall of 2003 as a highly regarded recruit from the USA National Team Develop Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., and has been an electrifying presence on the ice for the Badgers the past three seasons. He had 14 goals and 13 assists as a freshman, and was second on the team in scoring as a sophomore, with 44 points, when he also led the team with 20 goals.

Earl finishes his UW career with 58 goals and 63 assists, for 121 points.

With Earl's departure, the Badgers will have to replace five of the eight wings that suited up for their 2-1 win over Boston College in Saturday night's national championship game. But even without Earl, UW will return nearly two thirds of its 2005-06 goal-scoring and 59 percent of its assists.

The Badgers currently have nine forwards returning, including leading scorer Joe Pavelski. Two young forwards who did not suit up for the NCAA Tournament, Matt Ford and Tom Gorowsky, have goal-scoring potential. And UW's incoming recruiting class includes six wingers.

UW is set to return six of seven blue liners, losing All-American senior Tom Gilbert. The Badgers 2006-07 recruiting class includes three defensemen, including Nigel Williams, who is expected to be a top 10 pick in this year's NHL Draft.

Earl is the only Badger expected to leave early for the NHL. High profile freshman wing Jack Skille and junior netminder Brian Elliott, a Hobey Baker finalist, are expected to return.

Badger Nation Top Stories