On an individual basis, Regina Pats centre Adam Brooks has nothing left to prove in the Western Hockey League. He led the league in scoring last year with 38 goals and 120 points in 72 games in his 19-year-old season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect believes the objective of his last WHL season is to add an Ed Chynoweth Cup next to his Bob Clarke Trophy. He’s preparing to help the 14-0-3-0 Queen City Kids win their first WHL championship since 1980.
“That’s (win a championship) what I want to do in my last season,” says Brooks, who was named the WHL Player of the Week from Nov. 6-13. “Right now in my fifth year, this is the best team of the five I’ve played on. This team has a chance to win this year and that’s what we are all working towards.”
On top of elite skill and unmatched depth, Brooks believes Regina’s greatest strength is how they have come together as a team.
“We have the depth and talent, but also a great positive outlook,” says Brooks. “We are a confident and super close group. I’ve never seen a group this close and a group that gets along as a whole like we do. We have a lot of fun together and are always spending time together outside of practice.”
The 5-foot-11, 176-pound Brooks has picked up right where he left off last season. He’s been one of the most dominant forwards in the WHL this year, notching seven goals and 25 points in 11 matches. He credits his club’s coaching staff for his success this year and last season.
“For me it all started coming together when there was the ownership change and coaches like John Paddock and Dave Struch came in,” he says. “They believed in me and put me in key situations on the ice. It instilled confidence in me and our whole team.”
Brooks, 20, headed into the 2015-16 season with some extra motivation after he was passed over in the NHL draft for the second straight time. He feels that “fueled the fire” to help him breakout into a superstar at the major junior level.
“When I was passed over at 18 it fueled the fire to have that season,” says Brooks, whom the Maple Leafs drafted 92nd overall in the 2016 NHL draft. “We also had a good team and I had chemistry with my linemates. It all came together.”
The Winnipeg, Man., native felt his time at Leafs camp was an eye-opening experience. He noted that the work ethic and dedication of pro athletes stood out to him the most.
“It was an eye-opening experience,” he says. “The day-to-day work they put in to prepare I saw there. They work to eat right, sleep right and prepare every day to be a professional hockey player. I really got to see that this year more than I did last year in New York (attended Rangers rookie camp) because I was at the rookie camp and then the main camp.”
Brooks received the opportunity to rub shoulders with high-end talents such as Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner in Toronto. The elite skill of both players grabbed his attention at the camp.
“They are special players,” says Brooks. “I got to hang out with them there and spend time with them. They are both elite players that see things that most people don’t see and they do everything better than everyone else. I thought Marner especially is one of the smarts players, if not the smartest player I have ever played with.”
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen