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.