Though nobody was particularly appreciative of the circumstances that lead to it, many fans were very excited to see TJ Brennan finally get a chance to show off his abilities with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He might still get another opportunity before the season ends but for now, the 25 year old defenceman is heading back to the Marlies.
How Did He Do?
Obviously, we’re dealing with small sample sizes, but he definitely avoided embarrassing himself. His possession numbers were very, very good; the Leafs attempted 57.7% of the game’s shots while he was on the ice, a number that is significantly better than the other call ups and ahead of every other defenceman on the team.
Adjusting for leads and other goal related situations, Brennan still comes out on top. It’s a small sample, but to do that under slightly unfavourable zone starts while the rest of the team appears to be mentally checked out is something that’s good to see.
He also didn’t lose sight of the traits that got him here; particularly, his willingness to shoot. He attempted six shots at even strength and nine on the powerplay, with seven of those hitting the net. That’s a similar shot rate to Dion Phaneuf, the team’s biggest volume shooter from the point. No points came out of it, but signs of transitional ability were evident.
Why Send Him Back?
At the end of the day, the re-acquisition of Brennan wasn’t an attempt to pick up a third pairing defenceman for this year. The actual motive was to get the Marlies a top end AHL defenceman to push them into the playoffs and do some damage, and they have two key games ahead of them this weekend as they try to squeeze into eighth place in the Western Conference.
With Andrew MacWilliam already up with the team, and frequent shooter Sam Carrick still up as a forward, Brennan’s presence is needed now more than ever. The Leafs now have a first impression as to what Brennan has to offer at the upper level, which may lead to him getting a full-time opportunity next year, but in the now, he needs to go back to playing the role of ringer. The Marlies play tonight at Ricoh Coliseum against the Lake Erie Monsters.
Photo courtesy of Christian Bonin / TSGPhoto.com