Blues’ Brown Can Finally Solidify Role with Hometown Team

Midway through training camp, the St. Louis Blues made an unheralded move to free up salary cap space and add depth to their organization, trading forward Zach Sanford to the Ottawa Senators for Logan Brown and a pick. Sanford’s results with the Senators have been unremarkable, save for a hat trick scored during a Nov. 22 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. After training camp, the Blues sent Brown through waivers to the American Hockey League’s Springfield Thunderbirds, where he has continued to perform well, as he has throughout his career at the AHL level.

Related: Blues, Senators Don’t Solve Issues with Logan Brown Trade

Now, the St. Louis native has been called up to his hometown team due to a slew of injuries. With several players missing for an extended period, this could be Brown’s best shot to earn a more permanent NHL role. But as he continues to look for traction, the stakes get higher and higher.

Brown’s Strong Debut

Brown, the son of former NHLer and former Blues defenseman Jeff Brown, made a strong impact on his new team in his NHL debut. Though he played just under eight minutes in a difficult matchup against the defending Stanley Cup champions, he looked good, holding his own on the fourth line in a group of only 11 forwards. Most notably, he scored a critical goal. Midway through the second period, as his team tried to battle back from allowing three goals in the first six minutes of the game, Brown received a drop pass from teammate Oskar Sundqvist and quickly fired it home over former Blue Brian Elliott’s right pad.

The goal highlighted Brown’s return home, an impressive and much-needed “character” win over one of the league’s toughest opponents. After the game, Brown told reporters what the goal meant to him: “That was pretty cool. To come out with a win there, that makes it even better. I might have smiled at my mom and dad (after the goal). I saw them in the corner there, so it was pretty special for all of us… It was a fun game to be a part of.”

After years of struggling to find a way with the Senators, the team who drafted him 11th overall in 2016, Brown, 23, now has an opportunity to break through with his hometown team. He is clearly excited and should have plenty of motivation to take his best shot now. And the current misfortune of the team as a whole might provide him with just the opportunity he’s been looking for.

Blues’ Injuries Create Opportunities

Currently, the Blues are missing two forwards that had earned a permanent spot in the team’s bottom-six, and both players could be out for an extended period. Both veteran James Neal and younger forward Klim Kostin have been placed on the long-term injured reserve (LTIR). Both players will now have to miss ten games and 24 days before they can return to the lineup if their health then allows them to. That leaves a sizable “tryout” window for Brown, as long as he continues to earn playing time.

Logan Brown St. Louis Blues
Logan Brown, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)

The reality of the NHL’s limited rosters and complicated call-up procedures means that injuries are often the best opportunities for younger players to shine. In his career, Brown has been a consistent producer at the AHL level, but in 31 NHL games, he’s struggled to adjust, with just two goals and eight assists in 11:01 ATOI. Injuries and unpredictable opportunities have hampered his progression at the highest level, and he’s developed a reputation for inconsistent effort and a lack of physicality for his size (Brown is 6-foot-6). Now, he should have a chance to play a consistent role, even if in limited minutes. Head coach Craig Berube will demand effort and physicality, especially in a fourth-line role, but he typically rewards players who produce. It is a great second chance for a player desperately in need of one.

Blues Need a Shot in the Arm

After a strong start to the season, the Blues have seen a mixed bag of results, particularly in November. Some reliable forwards have struggled, and injuries now have thrown the bottom half of the roster into disarray. Brown now steps into that mess with an opportunity to provide a much-needed shot in the arm to his hometown team. It’s a fantastic chance to prove himself, but the pressure is high: if he can’t produce now, his openings to do so at the NHL level will likely dwindle quickly.

Sign up for our regular 'Blues Newsletter' for all the latest.