Ron Hextall and the Flyers seem pretty darn committed to making the Lehigh Valley Phantoms a competitive squad in the AHL this coming season. On Tuesday, they announced the signing of South Jersey Native™ T.J. Brennan to a “multi-year” deal, immediately improving the defense in Allentown.
CSN Philly reports that it’s a two-way deal with a $625,000 salary if he plays in the NHL. Brennan could be a call-up option for the Flyers but is likely going to stick in the AHL given the log jam of defenseman ahead of him on the depth chart.
Brennan’s signing is in addition to a plethora of others since the start of free agency on July 1. Former Hobey Baker winner and prolific AHL scorer Andy Miele signed on Friday, as did former Hobey finalist Greg Carey. On defense, the Flyers signed former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins standout Will O’Neill to a deal as well.
Brennan and O’Neill are a solid veteran one-two punch on defense for the Phantoms and should make them very competitive at that level, in addition a number of young prospects — like Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin and Robert Hagg — that the Flyers will lean on for time down there.
Lehigh Valley has added 77 goals (four players), to its line-up this offseason. #AHL— PATRICK WILLIAMS (@pwilliamsNHL) July 5, 2016
The Phantoms have been basically irrelevant in the AHL standings since leaving Philadelphia in 2009. They missed the playoffs in each of five seasons played as the Adirondack Phantoms, and in two seasons since moving to Allentown their best finish was 13th in the Eastern Conference.
Brennan has bounced around quite a bit since being selected 31st overall by the Sabres in the 2007 draft, playing in the Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs organizations in addition to Buffalo. He’s played just 53 games at the NHL level, but his AHL career has been quite impressive with 319 points in 443 career games. He’s a three-time AHL All-Star and is a two-time recipient of the Eddie Shore Award, given to that league’s top defenseman. He played his youth hockey for the Philadelphia Little Flyers and Moorestown High School.
A year ago, Brennan was a key piece on a Toronto Marlies team that ran away with the regular season title in the AHL, finishing 56-14-5-1 with 114 points. He was the third-leading scorer in the American Hockey League with 25 goals and 43 assists.