T.J. Brennan was the AHL’s defenseman of the year in 2013-14. Just 25 years old, he led the Toronto Marlies with 72 points (25G, 47A) during the regular season, then added 14 more points in 14 playoff games.
Yet according to the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle, the Maple Leafs merely have “some interest” in re-signing the pending unrestricted free agent.
So…what gives? How has such a prolific AHL scorer been unable to crack an NHL roster? How has he already been traded twice, first by the Buffalo Sabres to Florida, then by the Panthers to the Leafs?
The easy answer is, despite his obvious offensive ability, he’s not very good in his own end. Think Marc-Andre Bergeron. Or Yannick Weber.
But that’s not the answer Marlies coach Steve Spott gave.
“I have no problems with his defensive game,” Spott said in May. “All he needs is for someone to open the door for him.”
After the season he had in the minors, Brennan will be hungrier than ever for a shot in the NHL, so he’s probably going to be looking for a one-way deal. Or, at the very least, some assurances he’ll get a shot to make the big club.
The Calgary Flames have released Ryan Wilson from his professional tryout.
The 28-year-old was trying to make a comeback after missing 79 games with a shoulder injury last season.
Even with T.J. Brodie sidelined because of a broken hand, Wilson still faced long odds to make the final roster.
The veteran will be hard-pressed to find NHL work with another team.
He hasn’t suited up in more than 12 regular season games since 2011-12.
The Stockton Heat, Calgary’s AHL affiliate, also made some news on Sunday.
The club announced that they’ve signed Colton Orr to an AHL contract.
The 33-year-old tough guy suited up in just one game for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. He has 12 seasons of NHL experience under his belt.
The Arizona Coyotes have returned Dylan Strome to the Erie Otters of the OHL.
Strome, 18, was the third overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft.
The 6’3, 185 pounder was hoping to stick with the Coyotes this season, but the team decided to take the conservative approach with their top prospect.
Strome will look to build off an incredible junior season that saw him score 45 goals and 129 points in 68 games.
Strome seems to be taking the demotion in stride.
The team also announced that they’ve assigned goaltender Louis Domingue and forward Matthias Plachta to their AHL affiliate in Springfield.
Domingue, 23, had a 1-2-1 record with a 2.73 goals-against-average and a .911 save percentage in seven games last season.
Plachta, a free agent signing, will begin his first pro season in North America. The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 35 points in the German League last season.