Connor Brown, an Etobicoke, Ont. native, has been the subject of, let’s just say “criticism”, throughout the season. The 25-year-old Toronto Maple Leaf forward was seen as too slow, “just kind of there” and “overpaid” by the masses of fans that who stormed on social media after tough Maple Leaf loses. Some of the criticisms were fair and some were not. Players like Brown are definitely not superstars and probably are not the top-six forward types. That said, during the playoffs, a fourth liner like a Connor Brown can certainly help their respective teams out a lot more than they can hurt them. That is why Mr. Brown deserves some respect.
Maple Leafs Connor Brown Deserves A Bit Of Respect
If one looks at Brown’s Elite Prospects page, one thing that stands out is his career highlights. In the 2011-12 season, Brown made the OHL First All-Rookie Team in a year where he netted 53 points on a so-so Erie Otters team, which to most is impressive. In 2013-14, he won the CHL Top Scorer Award with a 128 point season, made it on the OHL First All-Star Team, had the most assists in the OHL with 83, won the OHL Most Outstanding Player award also known as the Red Tilson Trophy (an award that Mitch Marner won in the 2015-16 season), topped the OHL with the most points and was the OHL’s top scoring right winger.
This does not include the awards that he won in the AHL before joining the Maple Leafs in the NHL. In 2014-15, he made the AHL All-Rookie Team, he made the AHL All-Star Team, had the most assists by a rookie with 40, also had the most points by a rookie with 61, and he also won the AHL Rookie of The Month award in December of 2014.
Brown brings the Leafs value for the buck
Now before anyone says some like, “Oh, it doesn’t mean anything now,”; You’re right, it does not. One thing that does baffle many members in Leafs Nation is how they got him in the sixth round of the 2012 draft with pick #156. Most scouts will say the Leafs got a good one with that pick.
Not too many sixth rounders have that type of impact. Heck, not too many sixth rounders get pasted the AHL level and when they do, in their first full NHL season they do not score 20 goals. It is a rarity.
Yes, sometimes teams get lucky and find their “diamonds in the rust”, but these days, it is not too often, which is why many teams would be somewhat grateful to have a player like Connor Brown.
What Brown brings to the Leafs lineup
As mentioned earlier, in Brown’s first full season with the team in 2016-17, he played all 82 regular season games, scored 20 goals and recorded 16 assists. That is not bad for a third/fourth line player. His production after that has dropped slightly down to 29 points in 2017-18 and 28 points in 2018-19. That said, he has lost good linemates and was not always playing with the best centres the Leafs had to offer.
“Big book advanced stats” could probably show a person tens of things that are wrong with Brown (and right, too). What those stats cannot show someone is the heart he brings to each and every game.
By no means is he a giant, only standing six-feet tall, weighing in at 185 Ibs. That said he sure does play like a giant. Brown never shies away from chasing pucks down in the corner, blocking shots or laying some solid bodychecks when needed.
Another thing about Brown, he has some experience playing on the top line with Auston Matthews in the past. It does not hurt that he can play on the penalty kill or on the power play the odd time. Most times it might not be ideal, but it is always good to have a backup option like Brown in case Toronto becomes stricken with injuries. He is like another version of Zach Hyman.
The last word: Respect
Connor Brown is not a superstar, but he still comes to play. He manages to get the job done pretty well every game and that is more than most sixth rounders can do. No one is perfect and everybody has their bad days, Brown included.
Without Connor Brown’s play in game one against the Boston Bruins in this year’s playoffs, one may argue Toronto’s fourth line may not have been that effective. He created scoring chances, made some nice defensive plays and won some important puck battles. These actions kept the pressure on Boston late in the second and third periods. Not to mention, Brown made a couple of big hits. Hits that gave the Leafs some energy and got them into the game.
As has been said before these are the type of players a team wins with during the playoffs, that is especially true when there is a no holds barred type of intensity at play. That’s why fans ought to put some respect on Connor Brown’s name.
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