2015-16 Team: Regina Pats (#77)
Date of Birth: May 6, 1996
Place of Birth: Winnipeg, MB
Ht: 5’10” Wt: 175 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2016 third-year eligible
THW The Next Ones Ranking: 112th (June)
- THW Alternate: unranked (June)
- THW War Room: 108th (May)
- Future Considerations: unranked (June)
- ISS: unranked (June)
- Bob McKenzie: unranked (June)
- Craig Button: 53rd (June)
Every few seasons, there’s one 19 or 20-year-old player in the Western Hockey League that comes out of nowhere and utterly dominates the league offensively. Often they’re players that had to mature physically, and once their growth caught up with their on-ice talent or awareness they were able to tear the league apart. Players that figured the league out and got in a position to excel.
This year’s “small guy with big numbers” is Regina center Adam Brooks.
In his first season of draft eligibility, Brooks had 11 points and 4 goals. To nobody’s shock, he wasn’t selected. Last season, he had 62 points and 30 goals, scoring at a point-per-game pace and leading the Pats in scoring. Again, he wasn’t selected. This season, which was completed before he turned 20, saw him put up 120 points and 38 goals and lead the WHL in scoring. And he did this as a 5’10”, 175-pound player on a team that wasn’t wildly stacked with elite WHL talent.
Here’s a quick comparison of Brooks’ even-strength production, which nicely cuts through the noise of power-play production:
- 2013-14: 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 even-strength points
- 2014-15: 24 goals, 25 assists, 49 even-strength points
- 2015-16: 28 goals, 50 assists, 78 even-strength points
His shooting seems about as effective this season as it was last, but the gigantic leap in assists seems to indicate that he’s a lot better at using his teammates and they’re probably better at burying the chances he gives them than in the past. (That could be just players getting hot, or Brooks is providing higher quality passes than he did last season.) If Brooks is given time and space, he can create high-end chances for his teammates. Aside from his great passing and vision, he’s “merely” a high-level, well-rounded major-junior player.
Brooks will be 20 when the next WHL season begins, meaning he is eligible to return to junior as an overage player or sign a pro deal and head to the American Hockey League. And since this will be his third NHL Draft, he’ll be a free agent if he goes through again undrafted. His skill level likely means he will be selected, but there’s a lot of variables involved in when he gets picked – some teams may hope he’s around late in the draft, or may gamble on him being available as a free agent.
Regardless, Brooks has done enough as a junior player to warrant getting a shot at the next level. If he can continue progressing, he could be a big add for an NHL organization.
NHL Draft Projection:
Brooks will likely be selected in the 2016 Draft, but he could go anywhere between the fourth and sixth rounds, depending on if a team really likes him or if they think they can grab him after the draft as a free agent.
— Kyle Galliver (@KyleGalliver) March 19, 2016
- Very good passer.
- Strong offensive zone awareness.
- Good vision.
- Effective skater.
Under Construction (Improvements to Make):
- Needs to bulk up to survive corner puck battles.
- His shooting could use a bit of work to catch up with his passing.
- His two-way play could use a bit of work to round out his game.
If he keeps improving, Brooks projects as a second or third-line center at the NHL level. His ceiling is probably Tomas Plekanec or Carl Soderberg.
Risk – 1.5/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive 7.5/10, Defensive 7/10
Brooks was named a First-Team Eastern Conference All-Star following this season and captured the Bobby Clarke Trophy as the WHL’s top scorer. He has also represented Canada in the past at the World Under-17 Challenge, playing for Canada West.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.