Update (2:02 p.m. EST, February 18): The Jets, who would have had higher priority on a claim when Vegas waived Brooks, have apparently decided after the Leafs‘ claim and then subsequent waiving of Brooks that they’re interested in the player. Hey, it was worth a shot from the Leafs‘ perspective.
WIN claims Brooks
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 18, 2022
A familiar face is returning to the Maple Leafs’ roster (at least for now) by way of waivers: 25-year-old forward Adam Brooks has been claimed from the Vegas Golden Knights.
It’s a faint memory now, but Brooks originally lost his camp battle to Michael Amadio and Kirill Semyonov for the final roster spots back in October, forcing him onto waivers, where he was claimed by the Montreal Canadiens. Neither Amadio nor Semyonov are with the organization anymore — Semyonov has returned to the KHL after a handful of games with the Marlies, while Amadio ended up on waivers and claimed by Vegas, where he was eventually joined by Brooks, who was waived by the Canadiens in mid-November after appearing in just four games (one assist).
Brooks scored twice in seven appearances for the Golden Knights while averaging a little over 10 minutes time-on-ice per game before getting injured; he hasn’t played a game since December 31. He was then a casualty of Vegas’ recent roster shuffle to accommodate the return of Jack Eichel and his $10 million cap hit from Long Term Injured Reserve.
Brooks is waiver eligible despite returning to his old club on account of the fact that he was claimed by two separate organizations before the Leafs‘ former fourth-round draft selection in 2016 returned to Toronto.
The Leafs fall later in the priority order based on the current standings, suggesting they may well have submitted the only claim; with the team so tight to the cap prior to claiming Brooks, they could attempt to slip him through waivers as soon as possible.
Update: That’s exactly what Kyle Dubas will attempt to do as of Thursday at 2 p.m. EST.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have placed Adam Brooks on waivers.
If the Vegas Golden Knights make a claim, and they are the only team to do so, they can immediately assign him to the minors.
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) February 17, 2022
Of course, if the Golden Knights are still interested, they could reclaim Brooks and send him down to their AHL affiliate; they are tighter to the 50 Standard Player Contract limit (48/50) than the Leafs (46/50), however.
Heading into a stretch drive where the Leafs will play 36 games in 71 days, taking a zero-risk flyer on extra cheap depth ($725k, less than league minimum) is always nice. Brooks was a well-liked member of the organization prior to his departure; while undersized, not particularly fleet of foot, and not likely to be a factor on special teams, Brooks is a hard worker with some guile to him offensively (four goals and eight points in 18 games for the Leafs spanning two seasons), and he’s capable of taking an NHL shift at center.
The Leafs’ fourth line has slipped a little of late — poor underlying numbers, without much production of note — and it’s worth noting Brooks showed some chemistry with Jason Spezza last season; Spezza was involved in four of the five scoring plays Brooks collected points on.
The Leafs also really should be attempting to mix in more rest days for the likes of Spezza, Wayne Simmonds, and other regulars as needed knowing the hectic nature of their schedule and their secure playoff berth.
Whether they’ll retain Brooks and if they’ll have the cap flexibility to do that kind of lineup shuffling remains to be seen — not to mention any deadline wheeling and dealing next month — but we know they’re actively working to clear off $1.375 million in cap dollars, which is the non-buriable portion of Nick Ritchie’s $2.5 million cap hit.
To make space for Brooks’ $725k cap hit, the waiver-exempt Timothy Liljegren was temporarily sent down to the Marlies:
Per reports, #Leafsforever sent Liljegren 🔽 to add Brooks on waivers.
Now have $262K Proj Cap Space, which can fit $718K annual cap hit today.
In 13 days, assuming no roster moves, $262K Cap Space can fit $874K annual cap hit (Liljegren is $863K)https://t.co/hB3guL96pk
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) February 16, 2022
Brooks is an arbitration-eligible RFA at the end of the season. We’ll know by Friday afternoon whether the Leafs have officially added him to their depth chart.