Today’s prospect profile is on the 12th ranked Adam Brooks. Playing most recently for the Marlies, Brooks has been in the Leafs’ prospect system for a number of years. His stock has risen and fallen in that time quite significantly. This is one of the most interesting and divergent prospects in the Leafs’ system.
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As you can see, the votes ranged all over the map with Brooks. Truthfully, putting Brooks at 4 was by far the most unsure I was with my rankings. That’s why I chose to write this profile – to hopefully psych myself back up, and bring Leaf nation’s hopes up with me.
Brooks has fallen quite a ways, being the 5th ranked prospect in our rankings last season. Funnily enough, I wrote his profile last year too. I forgot that when I picked this one, so I’ve chosen not to read it and see exactly where the differences in my own perspective lie from year to year. Compared to last year, there are 5 new names that weren’t in the rankings last time that have jumped ahead of Brooks, and only one player who was above him (Travis Dermott) has graduated off of the list. So his true ranking shift compared to last year is 4 spots.
Brooks was born May 6th, 1996, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He turned 22 at the very end of last season. He’s a rather small player, at 5’10”, 181lbs. As many are aware, he’s a left-shooting center and one of the few decent prospects the Leafs have at that position.
The Leafs drafted Brooks in the 2016 NHL draft in the 4th round, 92nd overall. This was Brooks’ second time through the draft, and he was one of a number of 19-year-old players that the Leafs took that year. He was among Yegor Korshkov, who was #14 in this year’s rankings, as well as Vladimir Bobylyov (not ranked) and Jack Walker (no longer with the Leafs organization).
Brooks played his junior hockey with the Regina Pats of the WHL, on a talented roster, lead at the top with himself and Sam Steel.
Playing the comparables game is a dangerous business, because it almost always leads to excessive expectations. I don’t expect Brooks to reach a high level in the NHL at this point, but it’s hard not to think of the best in the game when making a comparison in playing style. When I’ve watched him play with the Marlies, his hustle, play on the puck, and lack of size remind me a lot of Tyler Johnson. In an ideal world, that could be a role that Brooks could fill for the Maple Leafs, but realistically he will come in as a winger or a 4th line center if anything.
It’s difficult for small players to make it in the big league, but Brooks has the skill and work ethic to do it. And anything is possible – Brooks’ WHL campaign far exceeded what Tyler Johnson was able to do. However, Johnson’s first year in the AHL was also on a stacked team, the Norfolk Admirals, and he eclipsed Brooks’ AHL debut, with 68 points in 75 games.
Brooks is a great playmaker, and racked up gigantic assist totals in the WHL. We’ll wait to see that in the pro leagues before I’m willing to even suggest Brooks could be as good as Tyler Johnson. But, in thinking of play style, Johnson is a good player to have in mind.
The hopes for Brooks absolutely soared in his draft+1 season, with his 120 point campaign. Following it up with 130 points in an overage season, he seemed like a real threat to be a solid center for the Leafs.
2017-18 Season Recap
Things took a step back, hype-wise, for Brooks this year. With only 19 points in the regular season, he hasn’t made much of his limited opportunity. There’s obviously still hope, as this was only his first season in the AHL. However, there’s definitely a lot of ground to make up before he can crack an NHL roster.
After two seasons with Regina after he was drafted, Brooks joined the Toronto Marlies last year. He generally struggled for ice time with the team this season, getting in only 57 games, missing many as a healthy scratch. Otherwise, he was mostly on a 4th line with Mason Marchment and Jeremy Bracco or Trevor Moore.
Has Progress Been as Expected?
Relative to the opportunity he was given in the Marlies lineup, Brooks’ progress has been a little shy of what would have been expected last year. Many would have thought Brooks would come in as a top center for the Marlies. However, their veteran center presence with Greening, Smith, Aaltonen, and Gauthier held him back from being an impact player, as discussed above.
You can only expect so much from a player who hasn’t been playing top line minutes.
As Seen on TV
2018-19 Season Outlook
Brooks will be back next year with the Marlies, and the opportunity should be much greater for him. With the departure of Miro Aaltonen and Ben Smith, and no really notable additions unless Par Lindholm can’t crack the NHL team as expected, Brooks will likely see himself in a top-6 center role for the majority of the season. The expectations will obviously be tremendously higher for him in that opportunity, and given his performance in a big role with Regina, there’s hope that he can do big things with the chance he’ll be given.
It should be mentioned that, as mentioned, Par Lindholm has far from locked down his spot as the 4th line center for the Leafs, and it’s plausible that Brooks could win the battle in training camp for the job. However, we saw Miro Aaltonen outplay Dominic Moore in preseason last year and still was unable to take a job that always felt like Moore’s. This year is likely to either be the same, or Lindholm will actually prove to be the better player.
Time will tell, of course, with this and with all of the prospects, but there’s definitely improvement to look forward to with Brooks.