Adam Brooks: The Leafs Prospect No-One Talks About

Fans and the media often talk about the Toronto Maple Leafs prospects performing well in the NHL and AHL, but little attention is paid to Adam Brooks.

The Leafs boast one of the deepest prospect pools going, with stars in the NHL such as Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. In addition, they have promising youngsters putting up points in the AHL, including Kasperi Kapanen and Brendan Leipsic.

But not too much is talked about of their prospects still playing their way through major junior hockey. Jeremy Bracco has begun to grab headlines with his play for the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL, earning nine goals and 27 total points in just 14 games this season – which puts him seventh in total points in the league.

Bracco’s 1.93 goals per game average so far puts him on pace to easily pass the 64 points (21G, 43A) he scored in his debut major junior season last year. However, he is not the only player putting up impressive numbers in major junior.

Adam Brooks, a 4th round (92nd overall) pick in this year’s draft, currently plays as a centre for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League. He is one of the many over-age players the Leafs picked this year.

Brooks had a real chance of making the Marlies this off-season, performing well at the Leafs’ rookie camp before eventually being sent to their AHL affiliates training camp. He was one of the final cuts the Marlies made, deciding to send him back to junior hockey for more seasoning.

Prolific Points Scorer

Since returning to Regina, Brooks has continued his regular scoring from last season – where he earned 38 goals and 120 total points in 72 regular season games. In nine games this season, he has six goals and 19 points and is currently ranked joint-25th in the WHL in scoring.

Now, many of you are thinking: “25th? That’s not so impressive”, but consider the fact that some of the players ahead of Brooks — as well as ones he is tied with — on the list have played 18, 19 and even 20 games this season.

Brooks is also just nine points behind the league’s leader, Anaheim Ducks first round pick Sam Steel, who is one of his teammates. Things look even more interesting when you dig further.

The Winnipeg, Manitoba native’s scoring pace is currently 2nd in the WHL, sitting at an impressive 2.11 PPG, just 0.04 less than Steel in first. With Brooks and Steel at the helm, the Regina Pats were ranked the No. 1 team in the entire CHL last week, sporting a 12-0-3 record that placed them 1st in the East Division.

Team Player

It should be noted that the Pats have achieved this while also finding themselves shorthanded on defence in recent weeks, with forward players being played along the blue line to help the team. And yes, Brooks was one of those players made to play out of position.

He played along the blue line for at least two games back in October, a 4-2 win against the Spokane Chiefs and an 8-5 win over the Medicine Hat Tigers. During this two-game stretch, Brooks scored a goal, had an assist and a plus-five rating despite naturally preferring to play at centre.

“With the situation right now, having some guys out, I needed to play some defence, it’s obviously not a comfortable situation for me. I did enjoy it but if push comes to shove I’d like to play forward.” Brooks told the Regina Leader-Post.

So despite only ever playing as a forward throughout his career, Brooks was able to take one for the team and play, seemingly well, in a completely different role. His time along the blue line will have helped give him a clearer understanding of the defensive side of the game – something young forwards tend to overlook in junior hockey.

Regina Pats’ Head Coach/General Manager John Paddock also seems to agree that Brooks did a good job on the back-end.

“He’s smart, he can pass the puck and he can skate. That’s why we put him back there. It’s certainly not ideal for the team or for him as far as points but he’s pretty effective. It’s a real luxury to have veteran players like that.” Paddock said.

Now, obviously, Brooks is unlikely to develop into a star like Matthews, Marner or William Nylander, but the 20-year-old could be a dark horse prospect for the Leafs from next season. His prolific scoring and willingness to change position for his team could see him moved out onto the wings in the pros.

Brooks stands at 5-foot-11 and 176 lbs, putting him an inch shorter than Marner and 6 lbs heavier, not necessarily ideal size for an NHL centre. He will be 21-years old come next off-season and can no longer be sent back to junior hockey, meaning  he will either make the Leafs, Marlies or find himself sent down to the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL.

If Brooks can bring his scoring ways to the next level, he has the potential to surprise people and should find himself at least playing for the Marlies next year. He is by no means a guaranteed thing in the pros, but his scoring talents and his willingness to do whatever is necessary for the team makes him an interesting player to follow this year.

What Leafs prospects are you interested in for the Leafs? Any other dark horses you’d like to see make it next year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section!