It’s the doldrums of summer — the picks have been drafted, the free agents have (mostly) been signed, and hockey news has crawled to a standstill. So to keep you entertained through this quiet time, we’ve decided to do a bold predictions series. Writers will pick something that most likely won’t happen, and argue why it absolutely will happen. Tell us why you agree or disagree in the comments, just remember these are all for fun. Unless they come true — then they were all 100% serious.
Logan Brown. When you hear his name, you probably think of a few things: his 10th-overall selection, where the Senators traded up to take him; his height (6’6”); his injury history. And though he’s just 21, with just six NHL games and 56 AHL games under his professional belt, there’s an element of resignation associated with his name. Nobody would use the word “bust”, but people seem a little hesitant to expect anything from him. He dominated junior when healthy, but he hasn’t looked at all noticeable in the NHL, and his AHL rookie scoring of 42 points in 56 games was fine, but not otherworldly. His 0.75 points-per-game was 15th among rookie skaters (min. 10 GP) last season, which is good, but he finished behind Drake Batherson (1.05 PPG) and even Christian Wolanin (0.78), a defenceman! And everything with Batherson comes with that caveat, “when healthy”. He only played 35 games in 2016-17, right after the Sens drafted him. At the 2018 World Juniors, he only got into two games before injuries sent him home. He missed the opening 14 games of the 2018-19 season due to yet another lower-body injury. It’s hard to turn heads when you’re missing half the games.
You may wonder why I opened this article talking down Logan Brown. Simply put, it’s because I want to emphasize how bold of a prediction this is. The odds are against him, but I have faith. Logan Brown will score 60 points in the NHL this season.
That would put him in pretty lofty company. This past season, Elias Pettersson was the only rookie to pass that mark with 66. Second place was Brady Tkachuk with just 45. Since the last lockout, only 13 rookies have hit 60 points, and they’re all great players: Mathew Barzal, Artemi Panarin, Auston Matthews, Pettersson, Clayton Keller, Patrik Laine, Mark Stone, Yanni Gourde, Johnny Gaudreau, Filip Forsberg, Nathan MacKinnon, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner. So basically, I’m saying I think Brown can be as dominant of a rookie as that group.
Why? Brown has all the tools to put up a dominant campaign. He has the hockey sense, the puck control, the vision, the hands, and, yes, the size to do it. The last time a playmaker this large entered the league, his name was Joe Thornton, and we all know how good he was / still is. Brown has the potential to really make a name for himself as a rookie, especially on a team that will be lacking offensive prowess.
Brown’s AHL numbers may have just been OK, but that’s partly because they include the 12 points in 21 games he had to end 2018. When some combination of Brown with Drake Batherson, Rudolfs Balcers, Nick Paul, or Filip Chlapik started to get regular rotations, he started to tear up the league. 30 points in 35 games down the stretch is more what we expect of him, including an explosive 21 points in 15 games to start 2019. After a brief adjustment period, he was able to connect with strong linemates and become a serious scoring threat.
The other thing I see is that Ottawa’s top scoring centre is a position up for grabs. Colin White will likely be the top line centre to start the year, but White is more of a two-way player. Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Artem Anisimov won’t be fighting for that spot. I expect that Logan Brown will be given a chance to play with some scoring linemates, and the results will speak for themselves. Maybe we’ll see the return of Balcers and Batherson on his wing. Maybe Brady Tkachuk gets on his line. Maybe we get what we all dream of, and have White, Brown, and Brown (Logan and Connor respectively) on a line. But however it goes down, I think Logan Brown will have a rookie breakout season to prove all the naysayers wrong.