The Toronto Maple Leafs today welcomed back Adam Brooks, claiming him after he was waived by the Vegas Golden Knights.
Brooks was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 4th round (92nd overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, and has had a bit of a journey this year; first claimed by the Montreal Canadiens, then Vegas, before coming full-circle back to Toronto.
The disjointed nature of his year means he has only managed 11 NHL appearances, grabbing 2 goals and an assist in the process. He also grabbed 3 assists in the AHL in 5 games for the Henderson Silver Knights.
The obvious takeaway is it’s nice to welcome back a draft pick that the Leafs didn’t really want to lose to begin with.
Why claim him when the Toronto Maple Leafs already have cap challenges?
The obvious answer here is that there’s further deals, likely a trade or two, in the the works and that those cap challenges will soon resolve as a result.
It’s a sensible pick-up because Nick Ritchie hasn’t worked out, and Brooks gives the Leafs a better option as the 13th forward than Kyle Clifford. As a centre, Brooks provides further depth, as he can play all three forward positions.
As the first man up. Adam Brooks certainly feels like a better option, than either Clifford or Brett Seney. Brooks isn’t much more than a depth pick-up, but he’s one that cost the team zero in terms of moving assets out. A free pick-up of a player that the team knows very well is never a bad option. One that plays in a position that we lack much depth in, even better.
What does this mean for the Toronto Maple Leafs moving forward?
The immediate effects of this waiver claim are already being felt, with Timothy Liljegren sent down to the Toronto Marlies.
This move isn’t one based on poor performance, but rather the simple fact he’s one of only two waivers-exempt players on the roster. The other, Rasmus Sandin, plays a bigger role for the Leafs, especially on the powerplay.
Obviously the hope is that a corresponding move can be made to get Liljegren back on the roster as soon as possible. For now, Brooks is on the I.R, and it’s highly unlikely the Leafs would try to sneak him back through waivers, and they clearly don’t want Liljegren in the AHL, so a move is likely very soon.
How can the Leafs make this claim work?
Quite simply, the Toronto Maple Leafs need to move players out to make the math work. Adam Brooks is only making $725,000 this season and that makes him a great option to help boost numbers.
After all, Ondrej Kase leaving the game in Calgary left the team down to 10 forwards, with Wayne Simmonds not available but active on the Leafs roster. In the immediacy, Brooks at $750,000 replaces Liljegren at $863,333, per CapFriendly.
The big deal that needs to happen is to shift the $2.5 million allotted to Nick Ritchie. Even though he’s in the AHL right now, he’s still costing the team $1.375 million in buried cap hit. Alternately and perhaps a little less recommended would be finding a trade partner for Travis Dermott or Justin Holl, who are earning $1.5 million and $2 million respectively.
Any of these moves, depending how much NHL salary comes across in return, would allow the Leafs to carry both Brooks and Liljegren on the main roster, which is clearly their goal.