The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed 21-year-old centerman Adam Brooks to a three-year entry-level contract, the club has announced.
The Leafs drafted Brooks in the fourth round of 2016 after he was twice passed over in the entry drafts of 2014 and 2015. A late bloomer in junior, Brooks put up just 11 points in 60 games in his draft year, followed by 62 points in 64 games in his draft plus-one, and then nearly doubled his point production in 2015-16 with 120 points in 72 games to lead all WHL scorers in points.
This past season, returning as the captain of the Regina Pats, Brooks managed to grow those totals by five goals and ten points — 43 goals, 130 points — in 66 games. He finished one point behind teammate Sam Steele for the WHL scoring title and earned three Player of the Week awards over the course of the 2016-17 season.
Brooks also posted 18 points in 17 games in the Pats’ trip to the WHL Final while going in and out of the lineup due to a leg injury.
The scouting report on Brooks from last summer:
Adam Brooks Scouting Report (2016)
His game is based around skill, solid skating, quick hands and offensive zone timing and sense. Brooks’ stride is well above average as he has good acceleration as well as top speed. He possesses good agility and balance on his feet and can use his footwork to create separation against defensemen, especially in-tight. Brooks has nifty hands and controls the puck well and can produce offense both off the rush as well as from controlled possession.
While he is both skilled as well as fast, he doesn’t necessarily wow you in that respect. His hands and skating are both quite good but neither aspect would classify as elite at the next level. Brooks creates most of his offense through his instincts. He reads soft spots and breakdowns in coverage well and will consistently find spots with the puck on his stick in high-percentage areas. There he is smart enough to find open linemates or finish on his own. His shot is above-average, certainly good at the junior level as the release is fairly quick and his wrist-shot is accurate; however, that shot would look just OK against pro-players.
Brooks doesn’t lack in compete; however, he isn’t a true puck-hound on the forecheck and will also still need to get bigger in his own zone. Defensively, his reads aren’t problematic but there isn’t much there that spells out an above-average defender at the next level. Brooks could be a bit more physical and do a better job tying up guys moving across the slot. To Brooks’ credit, he did see PK minutes and was one of the bigger shorthanded threats in the WHL.
Brooks is an interesting prospect from an offensive standpoint. While in our opinion he does not project to be more than an average all-around player, his league-leading season has certainly put him into the spotlight and allowed him to be one of the prospects worth checking out for the 2016 NHL draft. As a 20-year-old, he has succeeded against junior-aged players, but while he has a varied arsenal of offensive weapons, it is concerning that there is a lack of that one skill that would truly project as high-end at the next level.
The Leafs didn’t add any centermen among their seven picks in the 2017 draft and lack depth at the position in the AHL, making Brooks one of few promising pivot prospects in the team’s system currently (the team may also look to sign Dominic Toninato — who will need a contract by August 15 or he’ll become a UFA — for this reason). Brooks is likely headed to the Toronto Marlies to start 2017-18 and should play a key offensive role for the club right away.
He’s a player who, when he first arrived in the WHL, things didn’t go the way he wanted. He’s really taken off and is really an improved player. He plays the game fast. High hockey sense. Great drive train. Trains hard, competes hard. We think he’s a guy going in the right direction.
– Mike Babcock on Adam Brooks, June 2016