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Is Maple Leafs’ Adam Brooks Ready for a Breakout Season?

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a core of elite forwards. But this is a season when someone in the bottom-six plays well. How about Adam Brooks?

If you’re looking for a Toronto Maple Leafs’ player who might have a surprising breakout season, why not pick Adam Brooks? Seems like a longshot perhaps, but there’s something about the smallish 25-year-old center that the Maple Leafs coaching staff like because they kept throwing him into games last season.

Ok, in truth he played in only 11 games, but his production was obvious. Given that Brooks played only fourth-line minutes (averaging about 10 minutes per game) he had four goals and an assist. Averaged out for an 82-game schedule, he be bumping up towards 30 goals. That’s good production.

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Brooks Spent Last Season Learning

Last season, Brooks found himself as a center between two Hall of Fame wingers in Joe Thornton and Jason Spezza. Obviously, that aided his production as well as his learning.

That unique opportunity wasn’t lost on Brooks. He noted during the season that: “I mean those are two guys that obviously are special players in this game.” Brooks added that “there’s still some pinch-me moments when you’re out there with them.”

However, Brooks wasn’t the only beneficiary. He also had an impact on his two teammates. Playing with Brooks both Spezza and Thornton went on five-game scoring streaks. At one point, Thornton hadn’t scored in a number of games but when he started to play on Brooks’ wing he had six points in five games. The same is true with Spezza, who also had a similar six points in five games.

Brooks Helped the Fourth Line Create an Identity

The conversation between the three was obvious and must have been a learning experience for the youngster who, when he was with the Regina Pats scored 38 goals and 82 assists (for 120 points) in 72 games in 2015-16 and 43 goals and 87 assists (for 130 points) in 66 games in 2016-17. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the young center can put the puck in the net.

Anyway, Brooks noted that he was constantly listening to his two teammates. He noted, “We’ve kind of established our identity and how we want to play as a line. We talk quite a bit on the bench and talk when things aren’t going well and just trying to get them back on track.”

Brooks added that “They make it very easy. They tell you exactly what they want, and yeah, it’s a lot of fun, and hopefully, we can just continue to play well.”

Related: It’s Time for the Maple Leafs to Play Nick Robertson

Head Coach Sheldon Keefe Obviously Liked Brooks’ Energy

Last season Keefe relayed that he thought the combination of the experience with Thornton and Spezza, when combined with Brooks’ energy and intelligence made that line formidable. However, what will be Brooks’ role this coming season remains up in the air.

Brooks will likely be in a battle for the 13th forward spot on the Maple Leafs’ roster with the rough-and-tumble Kurtis Gabriel and, perhaps, Ondrej Kase (who’s suffered concussions). If the Maple Leafs are looking for a scoring forward, they might opt for Brooks. If they’re looking for the big, tough winger they might choose Gabriel. Kase just needs to be healthy.

However, I think that Brooks will have a chance to play some minutes on the team. In fact, it might be that this is the season that the Maple Leafs as an organization will offer some of its younger players more ice time. If that’s the case, look for Brooks to be among that group.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brooks have a breakout season.  



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  3. gfinale

    August 21, 2021 at 10:32 am

    I think Brooks was playing with Spezza lots and Spezza had a fantastic season. That probably helped but we’ll see how he does this year. He will probably be in the lineup from the start. If Kase is playing, he’s not going to be anywhere near the 13th!

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