This draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs have faced a lot of criticism for selecting "over-agers" and bigger guys. I, for one like the idea of selecting older players, not so fond of bigger guys, though. One over-ager specifically caught my eye, as he also caught the eyes of many of you guys: Adam Brooks.
Brooks crushed the WHL as a 19-20 year old, which would have been his draft+2 year had he been drafted in is first year of eligibility in 2014. In terms of PPG Brooks was in the top 3 among names that I'm sure many of you have heard of: Jayce Hawryluk and Brayden Point.
The common thing between all three of these players is their size, weight, and most importantly, their age. All three of these players have heights of 5'10-5'11, weights of 165-195 (Brooks is 175), and they are all 20 years old. The difference between them is that Hawryluk and Point were drafted in their first year of eligibility and are currently top-5 prospects for their respective teams, Hawryluk is with the Panthers, and Point with the Lightning.
Some of you may have been following NHL.com's 30 teams in 30 days as I have, but if you haven't then let me tell you what NHL.com ranked these prospects to their respective teams. Brayden Point was ranked #1 for the Lightning, ahead of 2012 and 2016 first round picks, Slater Koekkoek and Brett Howden, respectively.
Jayce Hawryluk, on the other hand, was ranked #4 for the Panthers, ahead of their 23rd overall pick from this year, and behind last year's 11th overall pick, Lawson Crouse. Considering these players are playing in the WHL, one of the few stats we can use to judge them is PPG, and in terms of PPG Brooks is almost as good as either of them in the regular season, but better than both of them in the playoffs.
After breaking down the point Brooks' scored, it makes him look even better. He was tied for second in insurance goals, second in first goals, third in game-winning goals, first in short-handed points, first in power-play points, and he had the least PIM out of the most games played. For the sake of comparison, the stats mentioned above are out of just the 3 players we're comparing. And, out of the 120 points he scored this year, 78 were at even strength.
The fact that the Leafs used just a 4th round pick to get him shows how behind NHL teams are with drafting over-aged skilled players. As with everything there's two sides to this debate. There is the argument to be made about signing them after their years of draft eligibility are over, as the Panthers just did with Dryden Hunt, also of the WHL. The counter argument to this would be, you have to wait till they have been passed over 3 times to sign then from the CHL.
Reading through his scouting reports I also noticed there's no big thing wrong in him. As per Mckeen's Hockey prior to the draft:
Every coach covets a reliable player whose effort and level of play usually falls within a predictable range - and Adam Brooks is that type of player. Quietly efficient' as opposed to flashy or dynamic, Brooks is a responsible two-way centre whose brain and feet are constantly involved in the game. His high hockey IQ and overall consistency of play have stood out as prime attributes this season. Used in all situations, he sustains a high work rate throughout shifts - and carries this on from shift to shift - and game to game. He sees the ice and anticipates the game intuitively and has a knack of being in the right spot and coming upon loose pucks. Skilled and efficient in possession, Brooks is talented at exploiting those tiny spaces in coverage and executing plays swiftly. He usually makes the right play at the right time. Though undersized at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, he plays with grit and can give and take a hit. Generally speaking though, he strives to keep moving to open positions and not getting himself tied up in traffic jams.
As we can see there is one small thing that he can work on, the rest shows that he is an above average player that's worth more than the 4th round pick we used on him. A player of his caliber and at this stage of development is worth a mid-second round pick in my books. The point of this article was to make my case that Brooks should be in the T25U25, maybe even in the top 20. Thanks for reading!