Any time that a team’s first-round draft pick doesn’t materialize into an impact player, it’s a bitter pill to swallow. The highest of expectations fade into the most embittering disappointments, and the entire drafting process used on the player is called into question.
The troubled relationship between the Ottawa Senators and Logan Brown is no longer the capital’s little secret. After another training camp where Brown — who turns 23 in two days — failed to make the big club outright, the question of whether or not his future lies in Ottawa has been voiced across the NHL. This of course comes a little over a year after Brown’s now-former agent released a scathing statement on the team, criticizing them for their “resistance” toward getting Brown NHL minutes.
The argument could be made that the current dynamic between Brown and the Senators is more puzzling than ever. He suffered a minor injury after Belleville’s first two games, in which head coach Troy Mann called his performance “very disappointing”. Upon being recalled to Ottawa’s taxi squad following the season-ending injury to Derek Stepan, it seemed like the plan was to have Brown get up to speed with practice time, and then transition to the open centre spot.
But again, Brown has been reassigned to Belleville, with DJ Smith saying he needs to “get some games” in the AHL before being given his first NHL shot of the season. Mann has said that they’ll reevaluate Brown after the B-Sens’ five-game homestand.
Unfortunately, nothing is that simple with regards to Brown and the Senators anymore. The Raleigh, North Carolina native has played a total of 83 games in Bellevile since 2018, tallying 21 goals and 49 assists for 70 points during that span. It’s not a point-per-game pace, but it’s difficult to ask more of a young pivot. This goes with just 25 Ottawa appearances and eight points in the same period of time.
The question now becomes: what exactly are the Senators hoping to see from Brown in another AHL stint? He’s proven that he’s an elite player at the minor league level, and it’s unclear how much more room there is for him to further develop down there. Brown is the undisputed best centre in Belleville, and among the best in the entire league, so it seems that the next logical step would be to have him continue his growth in Ottawa.
Sure, the argument can be made that Drake Batherson kicked the door down, and that Brown hasn’t matched his levels of production, but if Batherson is the standard, how do you ever plan on calling anyone up? Players that produce at his clip don’t grow on trees, and Brown’s totals are impressive in their own right, so why not give him a shot?
If the argument for assigning Brown to Belleville again is a conditioning one, it doesn’t make sense that he couldn’t catch up while practicing with the taxi squad, and then enter the lineup on this road trip.
The bottom line is it’s difficult to understand what the Senators are looking for from Brown. He hasn’t made an impact yet this season, but his levels of production in the AHL over the past few seasons, and sky-high potential should be enough to earn him an opportunity, at the very least.
If Ottawa is not willing to give the player a chance to succeed at the NHL level, despite years of top-end production in Belleville, then they should move on, and allow him to find an opportunity elsewhere. It’s well-known by now that the two sides aren’t happy with each other, and keeping Brown in Belleville does nothing more than diminish his trade value, especially if he gets hurt again.
Ottawa is far from likely to recoup the first-round pick with which they selected Brown in 2016, but there’s no reason to potentially crater what figures to be an already meagre return. Even if the Senators have indeed decided to ship Brown off, allowing him to prove that he can hang as an NHL player could go a long way toward making him a more desirable acquisition.
It should be noted this isn’t totally one-sided, and that Brown shares some blame for this crumbling marriage. Say what you will about lack of opportunities, but it seems fair to assume that Brown would be in the lineup had he been able to beat out the likes of Derek Stepan, and Artem Anisimov for spots. The fact that he has thus far been unable to do so in his young career is a bit concerning.
There is also Brown’s checkered injury history to consider. He’s never played a full season, even going back to his junior career, and an inability to stay off of the trainer’s table has undoubtedly been one of the reasons Brown hasn’t been able to stick at the NHL level. That in itself is far from a reason to give up on the player, but it makes getting a read on him, or trading him even harder.
Again, both sides have contributed to the deterioration of this relationship, but the overarching point is that it’s time for Brown to either prove he’s a core member of this team going forward, or try to do so with a different team. If the Senators are going to make Brown bend over backwards to get the faintest whiff of such an opportunity, then they may as well part ways with him.
If Brown can’t make an impact even when given a chance to prove himself, then it’s also time for Ottawa to go in a different direction. Either way, the clock is ticking on these two.
Should the Ottawa Senators Trade Logan Brown?
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