With their 4-3 win over the Texas Stars Saturday night, the Toronto Marlies extended their current point streak to eight games. And with his 20th assist of the season of Brendan Mikkelson’s second period goal, rookie Connor Brown added to his already impressive first season.
Despite the win the Marlies still sit fourth place in the North Division and 11th in the Western Conference, four points out of a playoff spot. But though they sit on the outside looking in Brown has been a stud for the team to date. The 20-year-old, who turns 21 next week, is quickly showing that a position with the Maple Leafs might be his, in the not so distant future.
The right-winger has nine goals and 29 points through his first 36 games in the American Hockey league, 11 points more than second-place Spencer Abbott in team scoring. Brown is quickly looking like a steal of a pick for the Maple Leafs organization.
Great Finish to OHL Career
Brown was selected by the Buds in the 2012 draft, getting picked up in the sixth round, 156th overall. He was picked up after racking up 25 goals and 53 points in 68 games. These were not terrible numbers by any means, but it seemed like once he was drafted by the team a fire was lit under the youngster and his true potential was finally witnessed. He would cap off the 2012-13 season with a 16 point improvement, tallying 28 goals and 69 points in 68 games.
However, it was his final season in the Ontario Hockey League with the Erie Otters that Maple Leaf fans may have gotten the most excited about. Brown lead the CHL in scoring with 45 goals and 128 points in 68 games. His 83 assists were monumental in helping his linemate Dane Fox finishing first in goals on the season with 64 in 67 games.
Team Canada Snub
Surprisingly, despite his offensive outburst last season, Canada left the Leafs prospect off of their World Junior squad, ultimately losing to Russia in the bronze-medal game. The omission of Brown from the team had many up in arms about the decision even outspoken hockey-mind Don Cherry, who couldn’t understand why the OHL’s leading goal scorer was left at home.
The Otters star, besides winning the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy as the OHL’s top scorer, also was awarded the Red Tilson Trophy as the OHL’s most outstanding player of the year, and Jim Mahon Trophy as the highest scoring right-winger in the league. It was no surprise that Brown was also named the Otters’ captain during the 2012-13 season.
Putting The Work in For the Marlies
Brown had a decent pre-season with the Maple Leafs this year, but it was expected that he would spend his first year with the Marlies.The decision to do so and what he has done with team so far seem to suggest that it was a good move by the club, though ultimately, due to his age, it was the only move they could make.
Brown is second on the team with a plus-7 rating and despite being known as a play-maker, as his 20 assists also suggest, Brown leads the team with 71 shots on goal. His impressive season also got the first-year an invitation the AHL All-Star game. The game will take place on Sunday January 26, and voting is open right now to decide the starting lineup.
— TorontoStar (@TorontoStar) January 2, 2015
There has been a lot of excitement in Leafs Nation about young first-rounder William Nylander, but equally so, fans should also get read to one day see Connor Brown don the Maple Leafs crest.
Craig is an intern at The Hockey News where he has written for both the website and the magazine. He is also a featured-blogger at http://www.hockeyforums.net/index.php/blog/46-its-a-canadian-game/. Craig has an Honours in Journalism from Wilfird Laurier University and is currently completing the Sports Journalism Program at Centennial College. Follow him on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman.