The Toronto Marlies may have just been eliminated from the Calder Cup Playoffs a few days ago, but that hasn’t stopped Kyle Dubas and Co. from making moves to improve next year’s team. Yesterday, it was reported that 21-year-old defenceman Nikolas Brouillard would join the team next season.
Belle nouvelle pour Nikolas Brouillard. Il s’est entendu avec le club-école des Maple Leafs dans la LAH, les Marlies. #tvasports
— Mikaël Lalancette (@MLalancetteTVA) May 30, 2016
It’s worth noting that Brouillard’s contract, like any AHL-only deal, allows for him to sign with an NHL team at any given point if they decide that he’s worth committing an SPC for. It’s still entirely possible, with that considered, that this contract ends up being completely useless in a few weeks.
But assuming it doesn’t, Brouillard will either fill a void left by graduating/departing Marlies defencemen, or join the Orlando Solar Bears as he begins to claw up the professional ranks.
Brouillard finished his final season of Major Junior this weekend, playing a key role in Rouyn-Noranda’s run through the QMJHL playoffs and into the Memorial Cup Final, where he and Martins Dzierkals lost to Mitch Marner, JJ Piccinich and the London Knights in overtime. It was his second consecutive year getting to the invitational tournament and the second time that he and his teammates would fall short.
It’s worth keeping in mind that as an overager, Brouillard was the oldest player on his team by nearly a full calendar year, originally becoming draft eligible in 2013 but getting passed over three times in a row. That makes his performance a little bit less impressive, but it doesn’t change the fact that he was a valued member of the roster.
In 54 games this year 23 of which came with the Quebec Remparts, Brouillard scored 17 goals and added 42 assists, 23 of which were primary. He led his defense corps in Goals Per Game (0.315), Primary Assists Per Game (0.426), Secondary Assists Per Game (0.352), Primary Points Per Game (0.741), and Points Per Game (1.093). Prospect-Stats estimates him as having the best Relative Goals-For Percentage of all defencemen on the team (+12.84%, 10th in the QMJHL), and the highest Estimated Time on Ice (24:42, 6th of QMJHL defencemen).
Brouillard also brought his excellence into the postseason, scoring 20 points in 19 games during the QMJHL playoffs and adding a goal and an assist at the Memorial Cup.
Brouillard, a 5’11 defenceman who has gained has grown slightly since his first year of draft eligibility, is best known for being able to help his team offensively. He’s steady enough in his own end but is known for his point shot, vision, and his ability to carry the puck. On a team like the Marlies who prefer to switch zones with control of the puck, Brouillard can be especially useful, and could give them another offensively capable point man in the very likely event that the team loses a few members of their powerplay unit to graduation and roster movement.
From a strictly AHL-focused perspective, I’d say that Brouillard will likely fill the void for Stuart Percy, who is waiver-eligible starting next season and is likely to either graduate to the Leafs or move on. Brouillard might have the upside that Percy has (or had, depending on how you feel about him after another injury-dampened season), but would be suitable to play on the second powerplay unit and move the puck through the zones.
♫ LOOK AT THE FLICKA DA WRIST ♫
♫ LOOK AT THE FLICKA DA WRIST ♫ pic.twitter.com/lu9TuRI9U4
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) September 13, 2015
Brouillard isn’t completely unfamiliar to the Leafs either. The native of St-Hyacinthe, Quebec played with the team during Rookie Camp this season, scoring two goals before suffering an injury. The silver lining? A QMJHL championship, and being the defensive goals leader for a second consecutive season. Not a bad send-off; now it’s time to see what he can do in the pros.