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Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

2016-17 Leafs’ Season in Review: Connor Brown

Day 3 of our TLN year in review series has Connor Brown on the docket.

Brown is an achievement in drafting. He played on a poor Erie Otters team that was historically bad but Brown was able to stand out despite being a -72 (!!). Plainly, he scores wherever he goes and it is a great skill to have. You’ll have a place in the NHL for a long time if you continue to do that.

Where does it leave him in the team’s collective depth chart? Does he have more to add to his game? Great questions to ask about your former sixth round pick.

Strengths

Brown played in 82 games this past season and scored 20 goals with 16 assists for a total of 36 points. That output puts him tied for eighth on the team in scoring. He puts himself in some dirty areas and makes himself into a useful player. He can shoot the puck but also is deft at deflecting the puck as well.

Having a player like him will always prove to be invaluable. When looking at your team, you’re always going to pinpoint the best players. It’s easy to do. You look at their points, their shooting percentage, their Corsi. Those players can’t play the entire game though. A strong middle six player alleviates what happens on the top line.

Rarely if ever is it discussed. The fourth line is the “death by a thousand cuts” example but it can happen on your second and third line too. Less passengers and more play drivers can help your team exponentially.

It is hard to decipher whether or not Brown fits the mold as a person who pushes possession. He is well on his way to being that type of player though. Still relatively young and only just played his first full season in the NHL, Brown has room for growth in a multitude of ways.

Weaknesses

While he posted a 50% CF on the season, you’d hope to expect more from someone that has fashioned himself as an offensive player. He is fine defensively, no real fault in his game but putting that at a desirable level could put him in the stratosphere.

Brown is also riding a high shooting percentage that may not last. 14.4% in all situations is high and not likely to last. If he gets more comfortable with his role/game, he should begin taking more shots. That would render any goal scoring troubles null and void. That is more of a long-term thought though.

Brown isn’t a small guy but he isn’t a large guy either. Continuing to play with speed and not a lot of grit could let his career last a little longer. He, like most other players, hangs out in the slot and takes punishment. Luckily, he is pretty great in transition and isn’t pigeonholed into one role.

Looking Ahead

Brown is a perfectly good player. He hasn’t tapped out his potential at all but tiny improvements to his game could lead to better play. You’d like to see him shoot more and putting himself in a position to succeed. He was given pretty even zone starts and did well with the ice time. With more and more offense coming in from the Marlies, it’ll be interesting to see how Brown is utilized in the years ahead.

Even more compelling than his utilization will be his next contract. The Leafs aren’t pushed up against the cap, nonetheless, what Brown will be paid will be monitored closely. It might be savvy to lock him up at a low number over 4-5 years. Given his penchant for improving year over year, there are worse ideas. If they decide to go with a bridge deal, it would likely be between 1.75-2.5 million a year. How the front office views his potential growth will determine how they handle him this offseason.

Simply, there is a lot to love about Brown.

  • STAN

    For a guy who popped 20 goals as a rookie his value is more than $2M per. He’d probably take two season bridge deal at $2.2M -$2.3M per. I only see huge upside with this guy. His effort is second to none.

    • Stan Smith

      I think some people tend to overlook how good Brown really is because of the Leafs happening to have 3 franchise rookies begin their careers on the same team in the same year. I looked back on Leafs scoring for the past 15 seasons, and I did not see a single rookie score 20 goals. If he had started his career in any of those years we would be talking about how amazing a season he had.

  • Stan Smith

    Brown should be as untouchable as Matthews, Nylander, and Marner. Not only did he score 20 goals as a rookie, but he plays a complete game. As for his 50% Corsi, a stat that is way over-rated, don’t forget he played most of the season on a checking line that faced other teams top players.