The Ottawa Senators are one of seven teams that didn’t qualify for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Instead, they have their sights set on the future and the plethora of talented youngsters who may be ready to join the lineup. Raleigh, North Carolina native, Logan Brown fits the description, as a key cog in the Senators’ future.
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At just 22 years old, Brown has consistently battled the dreaded injury bug which has hindered his development as an everyday NHLer. Despite the countless injuries, he is a very important player for the up-and-coming Senators, and one with an exciting future. Here’s a look at what makes Brown such an integral piece of the puzzle on the team’s rebuilding roster.
There’s a lot to like about Brown’s production and what he brings to the Senators’ organization. The underlying issue, however, is his inability to stay healthy – something he’s battled since his days in junior with the Windsor Spitfires and Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). During the 2016-17 season alone, Brown sustained three separate injuries (wrist, shoulder, and hand) limiting his time with the “Spits” to just 35 games. At the 2018 World Junior Championships as a member of Team USA, he was limited to three games after he was sidelined again by injury.
The 2018-19 campaign was much of the same. After a full offseason of strength training and conditioning, Brown sustained a knee injury on opening night with Ottawa’s AHL-affiliate club, the Belleville Senators, that forced him out of action for 14 games. Talk about a bad break for the 20-year-old. This season, after being recalled in early October by the Senators, Brown sustained an upper-body injury that kept him out of the lineup until Nov. 15. He split the rest of the season, playing 23 games with Ottawa and 25 with Belleville. No matter how hard he tries, he just can’t seem to stay healthy.
Although the knocks and injuries continue to pile up, what’s even more frustrating is Brown’s inability to get reps, be around his teammates, or get into game action consistently. Such factors (among others) are crucial to building confidence and comfort in the NHL. Unfortunately, Brown just hasn’t been able to get (and stay) in a groove. However, there’s a reason for optimism.
Poised for Stardom
Listed at a whopping 6-foot-6, 227 pounds, Brown is a massive centerman who possesses exceptional skills and awareness on both sides of the puck. Not only can he score goals, but he has a long reach and his large frame helps him maintain possession and shield off opposing defensemen. He has shown maturity and patience with the puck and has a very underrated release. A pass-first player, the Senators love his distribution skills and are in awe of his size and how he uses his body. As one of the NHL’s tallest players, how could they not?
Brown’s junior career spanned from 2014-2018 with both Windsor and Kitchener, where he tallied 74 goals and 205 points in 182 games, translating to 1.12 points-per-game. His imposing figure, skating ability, and intelligence with the puck took the OHL by storm. If he can stay healthy, there’s no reason he can’t experience similar success at the NHL level.
Interestingly, at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, the Senators moved up a spot (originally from 12th to 11th) to secure Brown’s services after a last-minute deal with the New Jersey Devils on the draft floor. Ottawa traded their pick (12th overall), along with a third-round pick (80th overall) for New Jersey’s 11th pick fearing the Devils would snatch him up. The Senators, who had Brown on their radar for a while, had their man.
By 2018-19, Brown had turned pro and skated in 56 games for Belleville, where he immediately impressed. Centering Belleville’s top line (with current Senators Drake Batherson and Nick Paul as his wingers), he managed 42 points (14 goals, 28 assists) despite missing 20 games due to a combination of playing in Ottawa for a pair of games and injury.
In his second pro season, he skated in 23 games for Ottawa where he scored one goal and seven assists, He also spent 25 games in Belleville where he tallied 28 points (7 goals, 21 assists), which was impressive, to say the least.
If you look at Brown’s body of work over his young career, there’s ample reason for excitement. He has scored at every level, and all indications point towards him being a good NHL player if he can stay in the lineup. He’s big, skilled, and has exceptional vision for a 22-year-old, which bodes well for the Senators’ future and the passionate fan base in Ottawa.
NHL Comparables & State of the Senators
Although he has all the tools to succeed, I think that Brown will best slot in with the Senators as a second-or third-line centerman with a high upside. Player comparables that come to mind are Charlie Coyle (Boston Bruins), Nazem Kadri (Colorado Avalanche), and Kevin Hayes (Philadelphia Flyers). All of them are strong on their skates, talented, play a sturdy game, and have gone on to successful NHL careers. If Brown can turn out like any of them, it would be a huge win for the Sens.
The Senators have both the third and fifth overall selections at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. With the third pick, I expect the Senators to grab a franchise-altering forward in the form of Tim Stutzle or Quinton Byfield (whoever is available), given that top-ranked prospect Alexis Lafreniere will be selected first overall by the New York Rangers. In a position as significant as center, a trio of Stutzle/Byfield, Colin White, and Brown would set the Senators’ franchise up for future success.
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Although the injuries are worrisome, as they would be with any player, Brown has a bright future. Not only can he score goals and put points on the board, but he also has the size and an above-average hockey IQ. I see him becoming an integral part of the Sens’ rebuild, and a major part of the franchise as early as next season.