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Weekend Roundtable: What’s Up With Connor Brown?

Let’s start off by saying there isn’t a whole lot left for the Leafs to do this off-season, so figuring out what the hold up in the Connor Brown signing is one of the few things left to passionately debate (or begrudgingly discuss.)

We’ve put it to our panel of experts to tell us what makes the most sense for the 23 year old winger. Should he be signed short term to see whether he can repeat his success? Is now the time to get him on a long term contract that is affordable for the Leafs? Or did we witness a marvelous debut that he’ll struggle to live up to and the best course of action is to deal him now for the riches we would surely receive in return?

Here are our takes, tell us who is right.

Ryan F.

As a fan, I’d be gutted if the Leafs moved Brown, but if I was an outside observer, I’d probably be preaching the “sell high” idea pretty hard. I mean, Brown just scored 20 goals as a rookie, and while he is going to remain a good NHL player, he might be 8th or 9th among Leafs forwards when you factor in upside (i.e. I do believe Kapanen will be the better player in the long run). And they have a bit of a crowded forward group, so it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he was shipped.

With all that said, separating person from player entirely isn’t the best strategy, and I think Brown is going to be an assistant captain on this team – he comes across as one of the smarter and most personable players I’ve seen on the Leafs in the limited times we’ve been given access. If he comes in at a reasonable number like Hyman, I’ll be glad to see him return.

Evan

I usually couldn’t care less about where a player’s from, but with Connor Brown, it’s different. You can see how much being a Leaf means to the guy. Hell, his celebration after his goal against Pittsburgh might have been my favourite moment from last season. I’d love for the Leafs to lock him up on a reasonable long-ish term deal.

Having said that, if someone’s willing to (massively) overpay, the Leafs would be silly not to entertain the thought. Yeah, he’s an incredibly easy guy to root for, but the end goal here is to win. As hard as it would be to say goodbye to someone like Connor Brown, it may be necessary depending on what teams are willing to give up.

So, yeah, my preference would be to get him re-signed, but that’s assuming other teams haven’t offered anything of significant value in return.

Megan

Sign him. Do short term. Short term is almost always the answer. You can never have too many good local boys who always dreamed of playing for their hometown team. Just think of the narratives and intangibles.

In all seriousness, though, Connor Brown is a more than serviceable third liner, and while he may not be a sure bet for 20 goals, he’ll probably hover around that 15 goal range as a conservative estimate. He’s not as shiny as the Leafs Trio rookies from last year, but he’s dependable, defensively sound, and has that scoring touch that some others (*cough, Hyman, cough*) tend to lack a bit. What are you going to receive right now for Connor Brown? Certainly not the marquee defenseman that the Leafs are supposedly on the lookout for. Don’t fix what ain’t broke. Keep Connor Brown (for now).

Ryan H.

Assuming the trade market for Brown is pretty mediocre, I think the right move is to keep him. The Leafs will likely try to lock him up for 4-6 years, between $2-3M. As the Big 3 start to get their extensions, good depth players on cheap deals are going to be key. Obviously you’d prefer these to be ELC players, but a locked up depth player for cheap provides you stability in case that ELC player doesn’t exist. As teams get successful, there’s a risk of overvaluing depth players and signing them to big contracts (Bolland, Clarkson, Abdelkader, etc.). If you get your depth guys locked up on cheap deals while they aren’t too valuable, you’re preventing yourself from being in a situation where you either give them big money or lose them. However, if he’s a piece that a team is interested in as a package for a top 4 defenseman, I’m certainly not going to say no to that.

Jon

There’s probably no player that I’ve consistently been wrong about more than Connor Brown. I really like the guy, but I have the habit of underestimating him and never believing that he will take the next step in his career. I’ve labelled him a career AHLer, a bottom line role player, and certainly never expected 20 goals out of him in the NHL.

All that being said, I still refuse to learn from my mistakes and feel it’s better to move on from Brown and to see whether he can be used to address more pressing needs (i.e. right side defense.)

Brown isn’t going to land a top pairing defenseman on his own, and if there’s a lesson to learn from the comical Hall for Larsson deal, it’s that in a one for one deal, you’re going to be left wanting, but it’s also fair to note that not every GM is as bad as Peter Chiarelli.

Brown doesn’t need to be the only piece in the deal, he can be a key piece, and he certainly would hold some value as an affordable scoring option for a team with plentiful right side defense depth (hello Calgary and Winnipeg.)

The nice thing about the situation is if a deal can’t be found you can still probably sign Brown for a reasonable short term deal and watch him make me look like a damned fool for doubting him again.

  • RCrooks

    Wow…..yea lets trade him, then we can do what we always do and 4 years from now we can all say how stupid the leafs were to trade him……everyone complains how for years we traded draft picks and young players and blame that for our rotten teams, then you guys write we should trade a guy like Brown who has improved greatly the second year of every league he was ever in……just stop it before you make our current management as stupid as our last several……..please!!!!!!

    • Soups

      Don’t get all the trade talk re Brown. He worked his nuts off all yr & continues to improve and grow. Other than the obvious, not playing center, he looks like our future Bozak (who we may lose) with a little more shutdown/jam potential. Productive, solid, character, etc. Not sexy but important. Sure stating the obvious if he’s required as part of a package for a #1 but let’s let these complementary young guys like Kap, Grundstrom, Hyman, Brown, etc before panicking. Like the idea of rolling 3 lines of mostly young forwards who get stronger with one goal. Staying together and winning a Cup. Brown doesn’t have leverage to be overpaid yet and Lou will take care of this. The impact D will come in due time. There’s teams who have drafted high for ten yrs and haven’t put together a potential forward group like this so let’s enjoy it.

      • Soups

        One thing I’d love to see and too bad about his injury is if Babs can get Gauthier to center the fourth line and throw his body around a bit. He could be a shift disturber/shutdown guy if Babs can bring out some teeth in him. Love to pencil him in at 4th line center.

        • LAKID

          Uh? that’s Marleau’s spot and Marleau doesn’t throw his body, score or make a difference in a game anymore, fact. Marleau was going to retire you egg heads ( leaf management). Marleaus contract just cost the Leafs either Marner or Nylander.

        • Rides V-Rod

          I agree that Brown is a great guy have around, but let’s face the facts, we have a need on our defense that needs to be addressed and if that cost includes Brown, as much as I would hate to see a guy with such a great work ethic, and a fantastic all around attitude go, for the right player Leafs have to trade him. All that he brings to the table is hard to replace, but at this point we do have players that can do that, especially the scoring. Kapanen will replace scoring, never quit work ethic, and some of Brows enthusiasm. I will miss that home and my team always raah…raah…raah, but with a top 4 RH/D man and us in the 3rd round of the playoffs will ease my burden greatly, maybe even to totally forgetting about it and celebrating like Hell down at Maple Leaf Square. Go Leafs Go!!! Go Leafs Go!!!

  • Gary Empey

    A snapshot of the Roundtable Logic for Rookies.
    Nylander scored 22 goals = superstar
    Marner scored 19 goals = superstar.
    Brown scored 20 goals playing on the shutdown line, plus played the PK = pay him less than the league average or trade him.

    • AussieBoy

      It’s so true.
      If the Big Three weren’t on the team,All anyone would talk about is Connor Brown.
      All this damn trade talk,I can live with Bozak and/or JVR going at some stage[since they will]…..But hands off Connor Brown please.
      And whatever his asking fee is,while were at it.

  • Holly Wood

    I like Brown and he looks like a guy who can move up and down the lineup in whatever role the team needs at the time. But to think he is bringing back a top 4 d man is dilussional. For that teams want young centres, goaltenders or d men. To acquire a d man for a winger you have to include a high pick our one of the above. Exception to that is the Hall Larson trade