Viktor Loov has changed the game forever, joining the long list of Leafs players that are out of the lineup with an undisclosed injury. Marlies defenceman TJ Brennan has been called up in his place.
TJ Brennan called up. Loov injured.
— Kevin McGran (@kevin_mcgran) March 9, 2016
Loov may have jumped to the top of the “weird injury” power rankings with this one, having not actually played a game in between his recall and his injury. Loov was called up just yesterday on an emergency basis to replace Matt Hunwick, who is undergoing Sports Hernia surgery and is done for the season. Loov suffered this injury at the beginning of morning skate and rushed off the ice.
Coming up in Loov’s place is veteran defenceman TJ Brennan, who once again is ripping the American Hockey League to shreds from an offensive perspective. In 59 games this year, Brennan has 55 points, leading the Marlies in scoring, leading all AHL defencemen in scoring, and ranking third in league-wide scoring. Brennan is also tied for 7th in goals with 22.
Many have been left wondering why Brennan hasn’t had a long-term look at the NHL level. His defensive play has long been a knock, given his habit of jumping into the rush and acting as a fourth forward. While he’s made strides in that regard over the past few seasons and has become very effective at being a carry-in option from the point, Brennan’s biggest opponent is his own age. At 26-years-old, many would argue that his window of opportunity is closing quickly, especially on a young, rebuilding team like the Leafs.
A good stretch of games might be able to reverse that tide, though. In his brief call-ups with the Sabres, Panthers, and Leafs over the years, Brennan has produced above-the-curve possession numbers, though he’s struggled to generate offence at anywhere close to the same scale has he has in his last four AHL seasons. If he can find a way to balance out both, he could make a valuable impression in what could be one of his last shots at sticking around at the NHL level.
Brennan is expected to suit up tonight against the New York Islanders. Interestingly, the Islanders were the team that signed him away from the Leafs back in 2014, only to trade him to Chicago before he could play his first game. He’ll seek a bit of revenge tonight when the puck drops at 7:00 PM.