July 05 2013 02:40PM
According to the TSN panel and multiple insiders on Twitter, the Toronto Maple Leafs have signed defenceman T.J. Brennan.
Brennan's deal with TOR is one year with $600K AAV.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 5, 2013
Bobby Mac gives you the financial details there - it's a fine depth signing at nearly a minimum cost, a necessity for the Leafs given that, prior to this move, they had a hair over $14M in cap space left to sign their six remaining restricted free agents and two more players to fill out the 23-man roster.
A friendly $0.6M cap hit for Brennan, who will slot in as the number seven of eight defenceman (or, as Jeffler points out, on the Marlies' top pair). This is a better low-cost signing than the Orr/McLaren types, simply for the reason that Brennan has more upside and potential than the other two.
Jeffler also provides us with a succinct scouting report on Brennan at a high level:
T.J. Brennan is basically a slightly better Mike Kostka but a couple of years younger. If it's a sub-1M deal it's good on Toronto's part.— Jeff Veillette (@Jeffler) July 5, 2013
And since $600k is less than $1M, Jeffler is probably pleased, as am I. It's important to note that he is not waiver-exempt, so he'll have to stick on the main roster or be slipped through waivers.
That said; Brennan would require waivers to go down, but that's due to a combination of age/contract history, not his 1-way contract.— Jeff Veillette (@Jeffler) July 5, 2013
But if he's a better Kostka, sticking in the top-eight shouldn't be a problem. There's also a chance he'd go unclaimed, so depending on how the rest of the offseason goes that might be a gamble the Leafs are willing to take.
The Kostka comparison is an apt one, especially considering Darren Dreger followed up on this news by confirming that Mike Kostka will not be back this year, which I think we all assumed anyway:
@TSNBobMcKenzie. Leafs will not be re-signing Mike Kostka. Brennan should be a good fit.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 5, 2013
Brennan is a 24-year old left-handed shooting point man, one who is alleged to have solid puck moving ability and offensive talent. Granted, I haven't put eyes on him quite enough to evaluate but let's take a look at some of his recent past:
*Was a 40-point scorer in the Q and was selected in the second round of the 2007 draft.
*Over two full and two partial AHL seasons, totalling 225 games, tallied 127 points including three seasons of 14 or more goals.
*Managed four goals and seven assists over 40 NHL games. Was traded for a fifth round pick and then later for Bobby Butler, a non-descript depth forward.
So you can see the offensive potential there, though there is some concern he'd be a minus defender at the NHL level when exposed to big minutes. He played extremely protected minutes during his stints with Buffalo and Florida so it's likewise difficult to take anything from his small-sample Relative Corsi, which is positive.
The Leafs still need a right-shooting defenceman to pair with John-Michael Liles, and it's not going to be T.J. Brennan. There's work to be done on the defence, even if they now have eight players who are either under contract or restricted. So you can question whether Brennan fills a need on the left side with so many bodies already there. However, at a low cost and the idea that he might slip through waivers, it's hard to quibble with a depth add near the league minimum.
Let's just hope this isn't the last move to shore up the back end. The Leafs now have six restricted free agents to sign, a hole on the right wing, could use another right-side point man and have about $13.5M in cap space.
Oh, and one final thing. This GIF should make him an early fan favorite: