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New Golden Knights center hopes to show he belongs in NHL

Adam Brooks has gotten a lot better at packing this year. And living like a nomad.

“Everything doesn’t even come out of the suitcase anymore,” he said.

Brooks is on his third NHL team before the end of the second month of the season. The center was claimed by the Golden Knights off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 17, more than a month after the Canadiens claimed him from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It’s been a head-spinning start for a player trying to get established in the NHL. Brooks is hoping to make the best of it and show he has what it takes to stay around.

“My mindset coming out of camp was that I was going to go play in the (American Hockey League) and try to do my best to get called up at some point in the year,” Brooks said. “To now be on team three obviously is a great experience … but you also have to make the most of it. … if you’re on your third team, there’s obviously a reason you’re not sticking.”

Brooks assumed he was off to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies when he was waived by the Maple Leafs after training camp.

He had already played 164 games for the Marlies and had success. He scored 42 goals and 92 points in his time there. He also won a Calder Cup in 2018.

The Canadiens had other ideas. They claimed him Oct. 11 to give him a chance to build off the 18 NHL games he played for Toronto. He didn’t get much of one. He appeared in four of a possible 18 games for Montreal, getting one assist, before finding himself back on the waiver wire.

He admitted it was stressful. Older, experienced players have to go through waivers before being sent to the AHL to ensure they have a chance at an NHL opportunity. Teams have 24 hours to make a claim once the waiver wire goes out at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET. If no one does, the player is free to be sent down.

“It’s a long 24 hours,” Brooks said. “You don’t really actually hear anything until the 2 o’clock mark. … Both times I didn’t actually think anything was going to happen. Two o’clock hit and it took a couple minutes after to actually hear something. You’re kind of just at a standstill.”

The Knights claimed Brooks the second time around, meaning he’s living in the United States for the first time. He didn’t join the team until its Nov. 22 game in St. Louis because of immigration issues.

He’s tried to hit the ground running. He’s played in the Knights’ last three games and scored a goal Nov. 24 against the Nashville Predators. He doesn’t play a particularly flashy brand of hockey. But right wing Keegan Kolesar, who knew Brooks when they were younger in Manitoba, said he’s easy to play with because he’s smart and moves the puck well.

“Tremendous player growing up,” Kolesar said. “We grew up in the same minor-league program. I think he’s got every record in the book.”

Brooks is on the verge of another record in the NHL. Only four players have ever played for four teams in a single season. It’s a mark he’d rather not equal.

He’s hoping he’ll continue to get comfortable in the Knights’ systems and be able to play at the top of his game. The team’s injuries up front to centers Jack Eichel, William Karlsson and Nolan Patrick mean he should have time to show he belongs.

“Anybody that is in that position where you’re getting claimed on waivers, you have the talent to play in the league,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “You just have to figure out a way to carve a path.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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