T.J. Brennan has come out of nowhere. In 2005-06 he played for the relatively obscure Junior Elite Philadelphia Little Flyers after playing for years at the AA level. He was offered numerous lacrosse scholarships and could have played hockey at any number of those schools but chose to play hockey at the best level possible. His determination led him to a two-week tryout with the St.John's Fog Devils of the QMJHL where he made the team. His 41 points in 68 games won the Raymond-Legace Trophy as the QMJHL's Top Rookie Defenseman in the 2006-07 season. Brennan didn't start playing hockey until he was 10.
2006-07: This was Brennan’s first season with the St. John’s Fog Devils of the QMJHL. In 68 games he tallied 16 goals and 41 points, while racking up 79 penalty minutes. Brennan was chosen in the second round, 31st overall, of the 2007 NHL Draft by the Buffalo Sabres.
2007-08: The St. John’s Fog Devils (QMJHL) regular netted 16 goals and 41 points in 65 games this season, his second with the club.
2008-09: Suiting up for 59 games with the Montreal Juniors (QMJHL), Brennan tallied five goals and 34 points in his third season in the league. Expect to see him make the AHL jump and appear with Portland next season.
2009-10: Brennan spent his first pro season in the AHL, appearing in 65 games with Portland. Brennan scored 6 goals with 17 assists and was +2 with 64 PMs. In four AHL playoff games, he had 1 assist and was -3 with 2 PMs.
2010-11: Brennan got off to a slow start in his second season with Portland but a five-game stint at forward seemed to jump start him offensively. After scoring 4 goals with 4 assists during that November stretch, Brennan returned to the blue line and finished the season with 15 goals and 24 assists. He was a +7 plus/minus and scored 5 of his 15 goals on the power play. In four AHL playoff games he had 1 assist and an even plus/minus with 6 PMs.
2011-12: Brennan scored his only goal in his first NHL game and appeared in 11 games with the Sabres in four separate call-ups; spending most of the year in the AHL with Rochester. He was an even plus/minus with 6 penalty minutes, averaging 14 minutes of ice time per game, during his time with Buffalo. Brennan tied Marcus Foligno for third on the Amerks with 16 goals and was plus-five with 14 assists and 39 penalty minutes in 52 games for Rochester. The Amerks finished second in the North Division and were swept by Toronto in a best-of-five first round playoff series. Brennan scored 2 goals and was an even plus/minus with 6 penalty minutes in three playoff games.
A former lacrosse player, Brennan is still taking his team and slowly developing into a well-rounded defenseman. His talents, including his fluid skating and hard shot, projects him to be more of an offensive defenseman, but Brennan is not afraid to get his nose dirty or play physical.
Time is not on Brennan’s side, and while his progress has been steady, he has also been leapfrogged by some of Buffalo’s younger prospects. The Sabres seem to have acknowledged Brennen's drop in the prospect ranks by dealing him to the Florida Panthers for a draft pick. And the Panthers let Brennan walk, as the defender signed a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 2013-14 season.