Connor Brown has stepped up in a big way since joining the Ottawa Senators and the organisation should reward him with a new contract.
The Ottawa native had been much maligned during his time with the Senators and fans were ready for something new, concerned that his poor performances would be locked down for the long-term.
Little did they know that one of the team’s biggest contributors this season would be involved in the deal, and no we’re not talking about defenceman Nikita Zaitsev.
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Connor Brown has been a great story throughout his career, being selected by the Leafs in the sixth round (156th overall) of the 2012 Draft after a 53-point (25 goals, 28 assists) season with the Erie Otters.
The following two seasons, donning the coveted ‘C’ for the Otters, saw Brown partner and out-score arguably the greatest player in the world today in Connor McDavid, seeing him continue his development in juniors.
Being a sixth-round pick, very few people would expect Brown to have progressed to where he is today. He finished his first season at the professional level with the highest number of points (61) and assists (40) by a rookie in the AHL in the 2014/15 season.
Injuries limited his impact the following year, but by the end of 2015/16 season, Brown had made his NHL debut and even had six points in just seven appearances in the show.
Since his rookie season, Brown saw his playing time limited under Mike Babcock – making him effectively a spare part in Toronto before he was saved by the Ottawa Senators when he was brought up to the Northeast Ontario last summer.
Brown was utilised as a bottom-six forward in Toronto, stifling his ability to produce and perform at a level he has shown to be capable of in the capital.
His career average ice time with the Leafs sits just above 15 minutes. Since heading to Ottawa, he has become a significant player on the team and has averaged 20:12 in his 66 regular-season games to date.
Brown is also having a career year in terms of his offensive output, with a career-best 26 assists and 40 total points while wearing the red, white and black.
He has managed this despite playing a strong, defensively sound game – starting in the offensive zone just 40.6% of the time this year while also being extremely reliable in puck battles, having 51 takeaways compared to 38 giveaways.
His ability to strip the puck away has followed him throughout his NHL career and is a trait that is valuable when teams are chasing leads or things a tied late in games.
Brown has been a standout player since joining the Ottawa Senators but is rarely talked about, particularly in the media.
Anthony Duclair was all the rage while having a career-year with the Sens this season, whereas Brown, who now has more points this season than the All-Star Game attendee, has slipped under the radar, doing a solid job while not receiving the plaudits he deserves.
He is an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent this summer and general manager Pierre Dorion should be looking to lock him down for the longer-term, having the potential to be a key player during the team’s ongoing rebuild and into the early stages of what will hopefully be far more competitive years.
At 26 years old, Brown still has plenty to give to this team and he fully deserves to be rewarded for the small sample size the Senators have had to judge him on so far, with the potential to hit the 50-point mark still within reach.
What do you think Sens fans? Are you pleased with how Brown has been this season? What do you think would be a fair deal for him? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!