And lo, the saga continues:
Winnipeg claims Adam Brooks off waivers from Toronto.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 18, 2022
That's the fourth time Brooks has been claimed this season.
There is no way the Jets put in a claim yesterday or they’d have had priority over the Leafs. Unless they’ve had an injury or are about to trade a fourth liner, there is only one reason they claimed Brooks, and it’s to — well the GM equivalent of snowing the goalie.
So much for the Leafs cap machination plans using Brooks’ low AAV. So much for their reasonable certainty he would clear.
Get them back, Kyle. Spell their name with an * or something.
In the tag-you’re-it game of who has a prior claim on Brooks — now it’s the Leafs. If (when?) the Jets waive him, the Leafs can claim him, and if they are the only claiming team, they can send him directly to the AHL, where he really will get the Mark Arcobello memorial award and a brochure for the Swiss league.
The Leafs claimed Adam Brooks on waivers from the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday. The original post on this is below.
On Thursday, the Leafs put Brooks back on waivers!?
Brooks (TOR) on waivers— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 17, 2022
I have a couple theories. Let’s talk about this.
What’s going on?
1. The Leafs want Timothy Liljegren back
The Leafs had to send defender Timothy Liljegren back to the AHL yesterday in order to make room for the acquired Brooks. This means he’s confirmed not available for tonight’s game at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins and possibly longer should Brooks stay on the roster. Waiving Brooks to either go to the AHL (fingers crossed) or leave the organization (again) would allow Liljegren to come back.
2. Maybe Brooks will clear?
Considering the Leafs were seventh from the bottom in the waiver order (because they’re seventh in the league by points) that none of the other teams put in a claim for Brooks. However, should the Vegas Golden Knights put in a claim, they can freely put him on their AHL Henderson Silver Knights team. The rule behind this is in the post below.
Unless Vegas doesn’t want him back at all, I think this is pretty unlikely. [Edit: I’m wrong, check point #4]
3. Nick Ritchie trade talks have cooled down
There was a lot of talk in the past couple days about Nick Ritchie potentially being moved. I wonder, because of this waiver claim, that the interest has cooled down. The Leafs would’ve been able to keep Liljegren and Brooks on the roster with a Ritchie trade, but if that’s not happening in the immediate future, then they needed to make a choice.
There is also the fact that Ritchie made his Toronto Marlies debut last night, scoring a goal early and looking pretty uninteresting the majority of the game afterwards. It’s possible teams saw his performance, and then glanced at his contract, and decided “hey, maybe we don’t want to risk spending $3.3 million in salary next season on a guy who can’t even beat up on AHLers.”
Nick Ritchie's got the moves here for his first goal on the Marlies to put them up 1-0 against the Comets. pic.twitter.com/NX0GQMbd9y— Pension Plan Puppets (@PPPLeafs) February 17, 2022
It’s safe to say he didn’t seem too, uh, enthusiastic about being where he was.
4. Something I can’t think of - Thank You Cap Friendly
Okay, here could be the reason Vegas wouldn’t put in a claim for Brooks. If Vegas does claim Brooks, he would have to be on their salary cap until he’s healthy and can leave IR. The Leafs (or any team) are able to claim an injured player put on waivers, but they can’t send him down until he’s healthy.
So what this could turn into is how long can the Golden Knights keep Brooks on their roster when they so clearly wanted him off, vs how long can the Leafs stay with their current situation until Brooks is healthy. I think this gives the Leafs a real shot at passing Brooks through waivers and waiting until he passes a physical before sending him down. Vegas is maximized on the size of their roster (23), so they would have to send someone down. I don’t think they have anyone waivers exempt at the moment.
To add further clarification:— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) February 17, 2022
Brooks is currently on IR, so to "immediately" assign him they'd first have to activate him.
If he isn't healthy yet, and Vegas is the only team to put in a claim, he has in effect cleared waivers and is waivers-exempt for 10 games and 30 days https://t.co/5H0ePnt4Cj
The Toronto Maple Leafs have claimed forward Adam Brooks on waivers from the Vegas Golden Knights. Brooks was drafted by the Maple Leafs in the fourth round in 2016, was claimed on waivers by the Montreal Canadiens in October, and claimed again by Vegas in November.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have claimed Adam Brooks on waivers from Vegas— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) February 16, 2022
Brooks carries a cap hit of $725,000 this season and will be an RFA at the end of the season. He’s had an injury-plagued season alongside healthy scratches, but has scored two goals in 11 games this season.
This makes the possibility of a Nick Ritchie trade almost inevitable because he’s using up almost double of Brooks’ cap space as dead weight while on the Marlies. They could trade him today and free up all that space, or paper Timothy Liljegren down at 5pm and sort it out in the near future.
One other caveat is that Brooks is currently injured and on IR (not LTIR, just regular IR) so his cap hit is counting against the Leafs salary cap.
The Leafs next game is tomorrow at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
How Brooks fits with the Leafs
We know a lot about Adam Brooks as a player. He’s full of heart, he works hard, and he’s pretty good defensively while having some ability to put the puck in the net. Simply put, he’s a good fourth liner, especially in a system like what the Leafs have where the fourth line doesn’t play much and are being asked to win on goals (aka variance) while maybe not winning in shots.
I don’t want to say this, but Jason Spezza has fallen behind when it comes to NHL 5v5 play. He’s still got the shot, and on the power play he’s great, but Sheldon Keefe has noticed Spezza has been getting outplayed and has reduced his minutes by a noticeable amount. If Spezza was someone else, let’s say Michael Amadio, Brooks would be in the lineup ahead of him. But he’s Jason Freaking Spezza, so the Leafs will find a role for him. Maybe there’s going to be a splitting of games until the trade deadline, who knows, but I think Brooks will play. At the very least, Brooks is a useful injury replacement and I love having him back.
The close my previous point, the Leafs have in fact paper Timothy Liljegren down to the Marlies today in order to make room for Brooks. The Leafs now have 13 forwards and six defensemen on the roster, along with two goalies for a total of 21 players.
It appears that the #Leafs have assigned Timothy Liljegren to the minors to clear the cap space needed after claiming Adam Brooks off waivers.— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) February 16, 2022
Brooks is currently on IR and so the Leafs now have only 18 skaters on the active roster (12F - 6D) after assigning Liljegren. https://t.co/OPrBFpGkKK
It is also mentioned in the comments that the Leafs cannot send Brooks to the AHL after claiming him despite putting him on waivers earlier in the season. That rule is only for the team that the player was most recently on, so Montreal. Good to remember for the future when we get Ritchie or Nikita Soshnikov on waivers next February. It seemed pretty clear that Brooks couldn’t go to the Marlies because then he would’ve automatically gone there and they wouldn’t have had to paper Liljegren down.
Adam Brooks would need to clear waivers before being eligible to be assigned to the AHL, so he's part of the #leafs NHL roster.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 16, 2022
The clock now ticks on Nick Ritchie can be traded. If it’s before the Penguins game, Liljegren will most likely play. If not, then Travis Dermott will get in the lineup.
When does Nick Ritchie get traded?
|In the next couple hours||34|
|During the Penguins game||27|
|Whenever is least convenient for Katya||377|
Bonus points for someone in the comments who can find me an NHL trade that happened in the morning. All GMs sleep in until noon, I swear.