We’re now reaching our top 5 prospects in our 2017 rankings, and things really start to get exciting for the Leafs’ future here. Ranked 5th in the Leafs’ prospect pool is Adam “Prairie Jesus” Brooks.
Here’s a table showing how the TLN staff made their rankings:
|4th||Megan Kim, Bobby Cappucino|
|5th||Adam Laskaris, Hayley Hendren|
|6th||Scott Maxwell, Evan Presement, Brayden Engel|
|8th||Ryan Fancey, Shawn Reis|
Brooks is a center who played his last few seasons in the WHL with the Regina Pats. He was born in Winnipeg on May 5th of 1996, making him 21 years of age.
He stands at just 5’11”, and has only filled out to 176 lbs thus far.
The Maple Leafs drafted Brooks in 2016, 92nd overall, in the 4th round. Since then, the Leafs have signed him to an entry level contract worth $759,167 on the salary cap. It includes enough potential performance bonuses ($182,500) to bring him up to a $925,000 AAV (this is not on the salary cap).
Last season, the Leafs chose to return Brooks to Regina for a CHL Over-age (21 yrs of age at season’s end) year despite being eligible for the AHL (20 years of age at season’s start).
Brooks has been an interesting prospect in the short time he’s been a Leaf. In his draft year, he wasn’t ranked by many of the major outlets, but the Leafs were willing to take him in the 4th round. Clearly they saw something they liked more than points and a potential inefficiency. Why Brooks?
This is a good excerpt from a profile written by Ryan Pike on TheHockeyWriters:
- Very good passer.
- Strong offensive zone awareness.
- Good vision.
- Effective skater.
Under Construction (Improvements to Make):
- Needs to bulk up to survive corner puck battles.
- His shooting could use a bit of work to catch up with his passing.
- His two-way play could use a bit of work to round out his game.
The key for Brooks will be gaining the physical tools that will allow him to use his offensive skills. The first test of this will be coming, but if he builds that strength and skating up he could be an impactful offensive player in the NHL.
The defensive side of the game is of course another question (as Mr. Pike noted above), but the strength and skating can only help. Some exposure to Mike Babcock’s defensive system will also be good, but with the Leafs being one of the messiest defensive teams in the NHL last season, developing that side of things would be a huge asset for Brooks.
Age @ End of Yr
*Estimated Primary Points per 60 minutes, Goals For%, and relative Goals For% from prospect-stats.com
*For everything else, there’s
The Leafs grabbed Brooks in the year where his point totals nearly tripled, drafting him (and a couple others) as a ~20 year old in the 2016 NHL entry draft. The idea was to capitalize on a potential draft inefficiency and pick up a good talent who would fall due to an overemphasized negative factor. Brooks had been passed over in two previous NHL drafts, and due to a presence of something like herd mentality when it comes to amateur scouting, this can be a recursive thing. “He was passed over, so he must not be any good.” The Leafs chose to ignore that and take a risk.
That he held up those numbers in the following year is very encouraging, but without showing a huge leap in improvement from 20 to 21, there’s some risk that it was partly an outlier. Additionally, the starkly diminished relGF% (the difference between Regina’s goal scoring strength when Brooks was on the ice vs. when he was off the ice) from 2015-16 to 2016-17 raises an eyebrow. However, since Regina improved markedly as a team, it’s more likely that the players on the other forward lines improved rather than Brooks declining significantly.
As Seen on TV
Everything is shaping up for Brooks to lead the Marlies offense next season. They ran last season with a pretty obvious lack of centers, resorting to converting Colin Greening to that role, and not really having any impact options offensively. This season will change that with Brooks’ arrival, as well as our 14th ranked prospect Miro Aaltonen.
It’ll be interesting to see who his linemates end up being, with many of the Leafs’ second tier skilled wingers still in the Marlies organization. I’d like to see him line up with Rychel and a veteran like Greening, in something like a 3rd line checking role, to try to force him into that defensive development mentioned above.
Brooks is definitely one of the more intriguing prospects in the Leafs system given the unusual situation he was drafted out of. Of course he’ll have to continue to develop, but of the Leafs’ prospects already mentioned in this series, I believe he has the highest ceiling. He’s proving the doubters wrong at the junior level, but the biggest question mark will always be how he’ll translate to the pro game.
Stay tuned for the rest of the top 5 continuing tomorrow with a certain former Leafs second round pick. I think you all know who I’m talking about.