Accomplishments in the American Hockey League are rarely looked upon favourably.
What a rookie might achieve is nearly always tempered with the tagline “but can he do it in the NHL?”
The AHL is undoubtedly as competitive and tough as it’s ever been, with teams becoming faster and more skilled – a replication of what’s happening in the NHL.
T.J Brennan has been a fringe player throughout his career and his time in the NHL looks up.
Lacking the high-end foot speed and defensive awareness that most teams are looking for, Brennan has also struggled to take his offensive prowess to the next level.
The latter is somewhat surprising when you consider what’s he achieved from the blue line.
In two of his last three seasons, the former 2007 Buffalo draft selection has been awarded the Eddie Shore trophy (Best defenseman chosen by AHL media and players).
Both of those years were spent with the Toronto Marlies, as he produced at nigh on point per game pace and netted 25 goals each season.
Having signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Philadelphia organisation the past summer, Brennan has already created a piece a piece of history with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
The 27 year old moved in moved into second place all-time in goals scored by an AHL defenseman, in typical flamboyant style.
A hat-trick (which proved the difference in a 7-4 win over Utica) in which his third goal moved him past Bryan Helmer.
In a slight irony, Helmer was inducted to the AHL Hall of Fame with Brennan in attendance, just a few weeks before the latter surpassed him in the scoring list.
Now sitting at 131 goals, Brennan still has a way to catch the leader, John Slaney.
A Newfoundland native, Slaney scored 166 times in a varied AHL career with Baltimore Skipjacks, Portland Pirates, Cornwall Aces, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and finishing with the Philadelphia Phantoms.
It’s not unthinkable that Brennan could usurp Slaney as soon as next season but should he continue to play in the American league beyond his current contract, then Brennan will undoubtedly break the record.
Going back to this season, the New Jersey Native is tied with Matt Taormina in the defenseman scoring race but his 18 goals see’s him atop the standings.
Should he win a third Eddie Shore Trophy, that would tie a record set by Noel Price back in 1935.
Brennan is a real thinker about the game and life in general, a world away from the hockey stereotype that some media would have you believe.
He’s also an excellent team-mate as well and is adored by every fan base that he’s represented.
I can attest for this having seen the attention the then Toronto Marlies player received after a game in Rochester. A sizeable amount of Amerks fans wishing him well, or requesting an autograph or photo from their hero.
Yet to win a championship in his career, Brennan will be hoping the offensive dynamite that are the 2016/17 Lehigh Valley Phantoms, go all the way this year.
Having produced 16 goals and 34 points in 45 post-season games, there’s little doubt that he’ll have a big part to play if Philadelphia’s affiliate are to lift the Calder Cup.
It won’t just be Phantoms fans who would be happy to see Brennan hoist the trophy.