TLN Top 20 Prospects 2016: #6 Connor Brown

TLN6

Connor Brown, former Erie Otter and lifelong Leafs fan, comes in at number 6 in our rankings. Similar to yesterday’s piece on 7th placed 7th round pick Andreas Johnson, 6 is also the number of rounds it took for someone to take a chance on Connor Brown. Now, we’re all thankful that that someone was Brian Burke’s Maple Leafs. 

The right winger has been a sincere bright spot in the organization for some time. He was drafted at a time when Tyler Biggs was a top prospect for the Leafs. Because of this, many, including myself, hold a soft spot for him. What the future holds for Brown should be nothing but gravy, given that he was a 6th round pick, but my expectations for him remain quite high.

The Votes

Jeff Ryan H. Shawn Ryan F. Adam Dom Jess Katy Readers
5 6 10 8 14 5 8 4 5

Brown was ranked 18th in our 2013 rankings, 6th in 2014, and 8th in 2015.

Player Bio

Position Hometown Height Weight Hand 2015 Team Acquired
RW Toronto, ON 5’11 183 Left Toronto Marlies 2012 Draft (6-156th)

The Stats

 SEASON AGE TEAM LEAGUE GP G A TP NHLe PIM +/-
 2009-10 15  Toronto Marlboros Minor Mdgt AAA  GTMMHL 80 25 44 69 N/A 16 N/A
 2010-11 16  St. Michael’s Buzzers  OJHL 49 17 22 39 8.48 18 N/A
 2011-12 17  Erie Otters  OHL 68 25 28 53 20.45 14 -72
 2012-13 18  Erie Otters   OHL 63 28 41 69 28.74 39 -11
 2013-14 19  Erie Otters   OHL 68 45 83 128 49.39 22 44
 2014-15 20  Toronto Marlies  AHL 76 21 40 61 30.93 10 24
 2015-16 21  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL 7 1 5 6 70.29 0 -2
  21  Toronto Marlies  AHL 34 11 18 29 32.87 8 10

The majority of Maple Leafs’ fandom caught wind of Connor Brown after his wildly successful draft+2 year, where he scored 128 points in 68 games. He has since joined the Marlies for 2 seasons, 0.8 and 0.85 points per game in those years. 

Last year, he got a 7 game stint with the Maple Leafs where he scored 6 points, but was Roberto Romano’d for playing a bit too well to support the (ultimately successful) quest for Auston Matthews. 

Projection Stats

pGPSn pGPSs pGPS% pGPS PPG pGPS PP82 pGPSr
349 (3/18) 139 (2/18) 39.8% (8/18) 0.53 (10/18) 46.82 (10/18) 21.25 (18/18)

  • pGPSn: The number of matches between the subject and the player-seasons (one season by a single player, i.e, John Tavares 2008 OHL) in the historical sample.
  • pGPSs: The number of statistical matches that became NHL regulars. This is determined by playing 200 NHL games.
  • pGPS%: Simply s divided by n, this is the percentage of statistical matches that successfully became NHL players.
  • pGPS PPG: The NHL points per game of successful matches.
  • pGPS P82: The same as pGPS PPG, but stretched over 82 games.
  • pGPSr: A bit of a hybrid number, this pGPS Rating combines the percentage and points per game to produce a number that includes both likelihood of success and potential upside.

Based on the success of his historical comparables, Brown is projected to become a middle-six forward.

To learn more about the Prospect Graduation Probabilities System, check out this post.

Of the most recent entries in this series, Connor Brown is third to Leipsic (my last entry) and Andreas Johnson (the most recent entry) in pGPSr. These stats have very positive things to say about him. As I explained before, pGPSr has a strong correlation with P/GP in the NHL, and as such, this number shows that we can have reasonable expectations that Brown (and Leipsic/Johnson) will see offensive success in the NHL.

The Eye Test

Ultimately, he is still an impressive talent. He not only has offensive skills, he is also very capable in the defensive aspect of the game. Not necessarily a checking-line-forward type of defense, but more of a protect-the-puck type of defense. I see him having a significantly positive effect in possession stats, since puck control and speed are key assets for him. His scoring ability will be a complement to his hard working attitude, and overall intelligence. 

As Seen on TV

The Buildup

Brown has been successful in the Leafs organization since being drafted. There’s no reason not to be excited for his future. After one and a half seasons of success in the AHL, there’s a lot of potential ahead of him. His scoring ability, and potential to be a solid driver-of-play, set a solid stage for a career. Connor Brown’s growth within the organization has been incredibly exciting, and has unquestionably earned him this high a place among these prospect rankings. 

The speedy winger suffered an unfortunate start to the year, with some injury troubles. His fractured ankle kept him out for almost 3 months. He got the season going again, and was still able to be a part of the Marlies’ playoff run, as well as the stint with the Maple Leafs shown above.

Overall, I believe Brown has shown a lot of people what he’s capable of, and is setting himself up for an interesting run at a roster spot this coming season.

Next Season

What a conveniently located headline!

My impressions on Connor Brown for next year are that he’s a lock to make the team. Despite the many obstacles, including the gluttonous collection of forwards the Leafs employ, his talents, I believe, will be a Maple Leaf next season.

However, if Brown does return to the Marlies, I would expect him to play a huge role there. He’ll be able to develop leadership skills and hopefully string together an offensive performance near the top of the league. This certainly won’t be a loss for Brown. I simply feel that Brown is capable of playing at the NHL level starting this season.

Closing Thoughts

I’m pretty surprised to be the only one from TLN to have Brown at 6. Some have him just at that tier higher at #5, and some have him much lower. Personally, I believe Brown is a bit lower on offensive upside than the 5 that remain. However, if I were ranking purely on confidence of NHL impact, I would likely have Brown at 4 or 5. 

Taking this all into consideration, I’m sure that Leafs Nation will join me in being incredibly excited for Connor Brown’s future with the Maple Leafs. With a ceiling of a top 6 forward, but a more likely landing spot of middle 6, I think that’s a pretty darn good return on a 6th round pick.

Stay tuned for the top 5!

The Rankings So Far

  • Brent Wisken

    One of my favourite prospects. Often overlooked and downplayed during his career, the tenacious, skilled, smaller player keeps proving doubters wrong.

  • magesticRAGE

    How does Brown get ranked lower than Rychel and Kapanen????

    Brown is younger than Rychel and has out produced him at every level including the pros!

    Kapanen continues to disappoint but he’s young enough not to write him off completely…barely. Kapanen should be 9th or 10th.

    Top 5 in order from 1st to 5th should be: Marner, Matthews, Zaitsev, Nylander, Brown.

    Please adjust your incorrect rank8ngs accordingly.;)

  • magesticRAGE

    Kapanen is 2.5 years younger than Brown.. played in AHL (and NHL) in his 19 year old season. Not an easy thing to do…

    Brown may still end up being the better player… i’m just saying Kapanen is far from a finished product. For all intents and purposes… Brown probably is a finished product (23 in January).

    I get the disagreement… but the reaction seems a bit blown out of proportion.

  • Brent Wisken

    It’s crazy how many of his highlights start with a turnover at the blueline. I wonder how that will translate with better puck movement at the NHL level but it really seems like something that would make him a legit PK threat with his speed and play recognition.