Connor Brown’s 2016-17 season seemed like it was cementing him as a building block to be a key complementary piece in the Leafs’ future.
Six points in his first seven NHL games at the tail end of 2015-16 showed he was ready to stick around, and after putting up 20 goals and 16 assists in his first full NHL season, the 2012 6th round pick looked right at home as a talented winger who could slot anywhere in the lineup. Need him next to Auston Matthews? Sure! Need him to play a few shifts with Bozak? Why not? Fourth line duty? Put him on the PK? If you needed him, “Brown Cow” was the guy to play just about anywhere.
But now in his third year in Toronto, he’s become… well, expendable.
It’s early in the season yet, but Brown’s one goal and four points through 14 games has shown enough that when this team’s really rolling, there isn’t much he can do that can’t be done by the next guy up in the lineup. Sure, Andreas Johnsson’s off to a less impressive one assist in nine games, but he’s not exactly at the same level of NHL experience as Brown, at about one-third of the cost.
I honestly don’t have much of an opinion on what the Leafs should do with him, but in the sake of stirring up some ish and early-season content, I’m going to make case for both sides:
Why trade Brown?
- William Nylander. If you really need the cap space for fitting in Nylander’s deal, you’d have to think moving away an extra $2.1 million for a draft pick could be the difference maker in allowing the team to keep Nylander, as well as Matthews and Mitch Marner.
- D help. If you can find a defenceman you think is on a decent contract that might be underused in a different role… is losing Brown’s four points this season really going to hurt the Leafs’ offence?
- Movable contract. Two more years, just $4.2 million total, prorated. No team will see that as a massive anchor, and it’s not one any team will shake their head at acquiring.
- Good contract. $2.1 million over this season and the next year also isn’t that much for the Leafs to pay, either.
- Still early in the season. Who’s saying Brown isn’t scoring 50 goals this season?
- He likes it here. There is some value to someone who’s never complained about being anywhere in the lineup. Plus he’s Pistol Pete’s best pal.
What do you think?
Let us know in the comments below.