Defenceman TJ Brennan has signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs on a one-year contract.
The 26-year-old Brennan, who was a pending restricted free agent, will have a shot at a spot on the NHL roster at camp in the Fall. The Maple Leafs have Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner on the left side of their defence, and Stu Percy made the Leafs out of camp last year only to have his season de-railed by concussion/injury problems—he should have competition at camp from Percy, who is arguably a better 5v5 defenceman.
Brennan is a power play specialist with weaknesses on the defensive side of the game and only average skating, but he has good vision and a hard shot from the point. Without being able to play on the PK because of a lack of defensive acuity, or garner much in the way of PP time due to better players occupying spots, he will be in tough to make the team as a bottom pairing defenceman.
That’s been the quandary Brennan has been in for some time now, unable to get an NHL appearance for 140 consecutive games between the years 2013 and 2015 despite putting up a sterling 120 points in the AHL over that span, but he could find himself in the role of a 6-7 guy for the Leafs next season.
After the Leafs re-acquired him in exchange for Spencer Abbott last February, Brennan appeared in six regular season games with the big club, collecting one assist. While in the AHL, he registered 52 points (12 goals, 40 assists) in 73 AHL games playing for both the Rockford IceHogs and Toronto Marlies. He is a former winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the American Hockey League’s top defenceman (2013-14). He was originally drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2nd round (31st overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.