Ottawa Senators Top 25 Under 25, #6: Logan Brown

The boom-or-bust prospect is trending towards a boom.

#6: Logan Brown (Reader Rank: 7, Last Year: 2)

Logan Brown falls four spots from last year’s rankings, to absolutely zero fault of his own. The centreman continued his growth this past season, and at 21 years old, could be making noise in the NHL as soon as this season.

Originally drafted 11th overall in 2016, Brown has the one trait lauded by every old school scout: size. At 6’6” and 220 lbs, he sticks out like a sore thumb on the ice, but plays unlike any other player of his stature. Instead of using his size to be a physical presence, he’s an adept playmaker, using his smarts, vision, and skilled hands to create offence.

Playing his junior hockey with the Windsor Spitfires and Kitchener Rangers, Brown was a key part of a couple deep playoff runs, winning the Memorial Cup in 2017 with the Spitfires, then coming within a game of making the OHL Finals in 2018 with the Rangers.

He put up monstrous scoring numbers, but injury troubles began to pile up. In 2016-17 he was limited to only 35 games due to various injuries with his shoulder, wrist and hand. In 2017-18 he only played 36 games (four of which were with Ottawa), after suffering a knee injury at the World Junior Championships. Then last season, he missed the opening few weeks with a lower body injury.

Staying healthy will be a major key to whether Brown can break into the NHL. The good news is that his health problems haven’t seemed to set him back so far — even with his lower body worn down, he seemed to adapt well to the increased physicality of the AHL.

In fact, aside from missing the opening weeks, Brown’s transition to the AHL couldn’t have been any smoother. While his 42 points in 56 games was second fiddle to Drake Batherson, his point-per-game rate was eighth among U21 players last season. At one point he had an eight-game point streak, in the middle of a larger run where he scored 21 points in 14 games.

His on-ice metrics were even more sterling — his team scored 69.5% of the on-ice goals when Brown was playing, and only 45.0% when he was not. That difference is bigger than anyone else on the B-Sens, and one of the best in the entire AHL.

You may also notice from the chart above that Brown had less than 1.5 goals against per 60 minutes when he was on the ice, again leading the B-Sens. He’s never been particularly lauded as a two-way player, but with the amount of offence he was able to generate, the results were incredible. Not even two years ago, defensive results like these from Brown would’ve been shocking.

He achieved this centering Belleville’s top line, showing fantastic chemistry with Batherson. Nick Paul and Rudolfs Balcers were the most common left wingers added to their line, although in any circumstance Brown and Batherson seemed to elevate their teammates. With the duo likely to be more separated next year, however, it’ll be interesting to follow how Brown fares without a versatile elite scorer by his side.

The good news is that all signs are currently pointing towards Brown being a solid play driver. Even more than his size, what makes him really stand out as a prospect is his creativity with the puck. He has incredible vision and sense to find his teammates with a pass, a rare skill that’s hard to teach. On the power play he’s a specialist from the bottom of the circle, with loads of patience and finesse, like he’s preying on the opposing goaltender.

His soft hands allow him to dangle through the opposition and fake out goalies. He even has an underrated shot — he certainly has the body leverage to make it powerful, although he’s very selective in when he uses it.

Two years ago, the criticism on Brown was to improve his scoring away from the power play, then he went and fleshed out his 5v5 play. Last year, the biggest criticism was for him to improve his consistency, an element which has made him a polarizing player since draft day. He certainly did that in his rookie pro season. His trajectory keeps going up, which is a fantastic sign for his development.

That isn’t to say there still isn’t more Brown can improve. His skating, although good for a big player, is pretty average in comparison to other prospects. He has the shiftiness and the mobility, although his acceleration can lose him a step or two when trying to break in against defenders.

Brown is also a very lanky player, with even more room to fill out his frame. Even though he’s not tossing his body around for hits, he can still stand to use his size more to his advantage. He has the ability to guard the puck and cut in against defencemen, although he doesn’t do it very consistently. I’m far from an expert, but adding extra muscle could maybe even help in reducing his frequency of injuries.

As for his outlook this season, the acquisition of Artem Anisimov makes it very unlikely Brown makes the main roster out of training camp. In case of an injury to one of Ottawa’s four centremen, however, he’ll likely be the first one to join the Senators. Until then, he’ll continue to be a treat to fans in Belleville, playing significant minutes as their top line centre.

Brown’s uniqueness as a prospect makes it difficult to project his future, let alone compare him to current NHLers. What’s certain is that he has the raw talent to one day be a top six centreman — as long as he can avoid injuries and continue building on what he’s already done, then the sky’s the limit.

Below is a complete look at Brown’s highlights from the 2018-19 season, made by the irreplaceable @SensProspects.

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