After the Leafs selected James Greenway with their second 3rd round pick of the draft, it was evident that they had a theme going that was completely opposite to their draft in 2015. Instead of taking the small, skilled route in terms of players, they went with big, defensive, power force type players. They took Russian power forward Yegor Korshkov with the 31st pick, and then followed up with Swedish two way forward Carl Grundstrom, goaltender Joseph Woll, and massive two way defenseman James Greenway. The theme wasn't hard to see, but they did poke a hole in their draft strategy at 92nd overall when they drafted WHL scoring champion Adam Brooks.
Brooks played his first junior season in 2012-13 with the Regina Pats, putting up 12 points in 55 games. He would remain with the Pats for his entire junior career, posting 11, 62, and 120 points respectively over the next three years. Brooks represents the exact type of player the Maple Leafs would have drafted in 2015. He fits right in with the trend of small playmakers and goal scorers such as Mitch Marner, Jeremy Bracco, Martins Dzierkals, and Dmytro Timashov. The only difference with the Brooks pick is that he's already 20 years old. What this means is that the Leafs have two choices with Brooks for next season. They could either return him to the WHL for one final season as an overager, or they could sign him to an entry level contract before the season starts and he could play for the Marlies.
So what is there to like about Brooks' game? The answer to that is lots of things. The first attractive part to his game is that he led the WHL in scoring. Who wouldn't want a league scoring champion on their team? Not to say that Brooks is going to have this success in the NHL (if he makes it there) but it's still a pretty impressive feat, whether he's older or not. He has elite vision and has the ability to make plays on the ice that not a lot of players can do. He's on the smaller side at 5'11 and 176lb, but he plays centre and absolutely tore up the WHL this season alongside of Anaheim Ducks first round pick Sam Steel. He's an elite skater and has a great shot to go along with his playmaking ability. It's obviously tough to say at this point what his ceiling will be as an NHLer, but if he performs consistently at each level he plays at then it's possible that he could develop into a solid second line centre at the NHL level.
NHL COMPARABLE: Tyler Johnson
If the Leafs have the second coming of Tyler Johnson on their hands, then you can pretty much guarentee the Brooks pick a success. In all seriousness, there are many similarities between Johnson and Brooks' games. They both have a lethal shot and have success at the centre position, despite both being on the smaller side. They make players around them better and are quick to get around the ice.
NHL ETA: 2018-19
This is a bit of a stretch, but I'm giving Brooks the edge here because of his age. If he plays for the Marlies this season, then he could spend a few seasons developing his game in the AHL and then be given a shot at the NHL level by 2018-19. I'm not saying he'll be an NHL regular by then, but it's certainly possible that he sees some games by then.