The Toronto Maple Leafs have made a big, multi-year signing in the centre position. No, no, relax, they haven’t cut the line and picked up Joe Thornton. But they did commit to one of their 2016 draft picks this afternoon, signing 21-year-old Adam “Prairie Jesus” Brooks to a standard three-year, entry-level contract.
Brooks was drafted 92nd overall in the fourth round of last year’s draft, to much skepticism thanks to his age. After all, the native of Winnipeg had been passed over in two prior years of draft eligibility, making him appear to be off-the-board on the surface. What the Leafs saw, however, was a player who had taken advantage of those post-draft years to turn a rough start to his junior career into a dominant finish. In the last two seasons with the Regina Pats, Brooks as scored an astonishing 250 points in 138 games.
Whether or not the 5’10, 175 pound centre can parlay his momentum into a successful professional career is still up for debate, but he’ll have every opportunity to do so. Sent back to junior because of concerns about an overflowing AHL roster, it’s very likely that Brooks will be competing to be the Toronto Marlies’ top centre in the fall.
Brooks was ranked by TLN as the Leafs’ 18th-best prospect last summer, with individual writer votes ranging from 6th to unranked.