Getting Excited about Connor Brown

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A Toronto Maple Leafs prospect won an award for something. The logical next step is for us all to projectile vomit, buy a yak, and go on a 72-hour bender.

Or we can relax, breathe, and take a look at what Connor Brown winning the Red Tilson Trophy really means.

Who won what?

The answer to the who part is Connor Brown. The Leafs picked him in the sixth round, 156th overall in 2012. He has played in the Ontario Hockey League for three seasons for the Erie Otters.

The answer to the what part is the Red Tilson Trophy, the award bestowed upon the person deemed to be the Most Outstanding Player in the OHL. That’s right, Leafs fans – a Leafs prospect was named the MVP of the only junior league in the world worth a damn to Don Cherry.

Connor Brown is certainly deserving of this award, too. He scored 128 points in 68 OHL games. For reference, nobody has scored that many points in the OHL since Patrick Kane put up 145 points in just 58 games, playing with the league like a cat would with a ball of yarn.

“So you’re saying the Leafs stole a guy in the sixth round who’s gonna score as much as Patrick Kane, out-skate PK Subban, and punch Zdeno Chara in the neck?!?! I LOVE THIS KID!”

Simmer down there, tiger.

There are so many factors at play that hammering out where a major junior, college, high school, or european prospect will end up is extremely hard to do with any accuracy. NHL teams spend a lot of money on scouting and they’re wrong all the time. What’s the player’s size? Is it their draft year or are they an over-ager? Does their game have any obvious flaws? Are they a good learner? Are they a jackass? On and on.

While Connor Brown’s future remains a mystery (he’s currently chilling with the Toronto Marlies), the list of past winners of the Red Tilson Trophy is pretty encouraging. A lot of NHLers; good ones, too.

2012-13: Vincent Trocheck. He won two seasons after the Florida Panthers picked him in the third round in 2011. He put up decent AHL numbers this season and scored eight points in 20 NHL games.

2011-12: Michael Houser. Houser is actually a rare case for this award. For one, he’s undrafted. He’s also a goalie. He obviously won it as an over-ager. Goalie development is the hardest to gauge. The Panthers eventually signed him and he has good ECHL numbers and some AHL experience, too.

2010-11: Ryan Ellis. Former Canadian World Junior, plays with the Nashville Predators, and currently on Team Canada at the World Hockey Championship. He won it two years after being drafted.

2009-10: Tyler Seguin. Current top five NHL scorer. Won the trophy in his draft year, which is very hard to do.

2008-09: Cody Hodgson. Coming into his own with the miserable Buffalo Sabres after a rocky and injury-riddled start with the Vancouver Canucks. He won it one season after being drafted.

2007-08: Justin Azevedo. He won it in his final OHL season. The L.A. Kings used a six-rounder on him in 2008 and he went on to play in four seasons with their AHL affiliate. After deciding to leave North America, Azevedo scored at a point-per-game pace in Finland before having a good season and huge playoffs for the KHL’s Lev Prague. What happened? One theory: He’s 5’7″, 172 lbs. 

2006-07: John Tavares. He won two seasons before he was drafted which is nuts and stupid. He actually won the year Patrick Kane scored 62 goals and 145 points. Tavares scored 72 goals and 134 points. The guy who scored more goals won. Since then, John Tavares has gone on to become John Tavares.

Before this turns into a novel, other winners include Wojtek Wolski, Corey Perry, Corey Locke (twice), Brad Boyes (twice), Andrew Raycroft, Brian Campbell, and Alyn McCauley (twice).

What does this tell us? A whole big pile of guesses is what it tells us. Regardless, some people get a little carried away.

He forgot to add “Pope in seven.”

Who knows? Maybe the Leafs snagged a gem. Brian Burke, who is known for only picking the biggest and most truculent, selected a kid who is currently listed at just 5’11” and 170 lbs. Lance Hornby tweeted that Brown was only 137 lbs when the Otters drafted him in the 13th round. Who cares? The guy gets results.

Awards and junior or college performance don’t always dictate the future. Everyone lost their mind over the Matt Frattin Hobey Baker talk. Jerry D’Amigo was a World Junior star and was deemed the next Gilmour. Justin Pogge was supposed to be Patrick Roy times Felix Potvin plus magic.

For now, I’m just happy for Connor Brown and I hope he kicks some ass.

  • Jeremy Ian

    The most accurate appraisal of Connor Brown might come from Steve Spott, Marlies coach and previous OHL coach with a great knowledge of a OHL players:

    Have a listen to what Spott said yesterday:

    http://iphone.tsn.ca/tsnpodcasts/LL_SteveSpott_May7.mp3

    Spott says that Brown will be an AHL assistant captain or captain within a couple years. He has enough passion and talent for the game to get that far.

    Spott goes on to say the jump to the NHL is more up to Brown and we will just have to watch and wait.

    Because he is smaller, Brown might be a bit like Abbott or Kozun…stars in the AHL, but maybe not quite full-time NHL players..or more like small, bottom-6 NHL players during short NHL careers with lots time in the AHL.