Connor Brown was traded to the Ottawa Senators from the Toronto Maple Leafs with Nikita Zaitsev and Michael Carcone for Cody Ceci, Beh Harpur, Aaron Luckuk and a 2020 third-round draft pick. What made Brown so different from others who might have been involved in that trade is that I believe he was actually looking forward to moving to the Senators. He simply wanted to play more than he was getting a chance with the Maple Leafs.
It’s not that Brown didn’t have a place with the Maple Leafs. He killed penalties, he played where he was asked, and his versatility allowed him to help the Maple Leafs in many capacities. There’s little doubt he would have been traded if it were not for the team’s salary-cap issues after signing Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner to such high-number contracts.
In fact, Brown had played in all 82 of the Maple Leafs’ games during the past three seasons. However, he saw the writing on the wall and he wasn’t going to become one of the Maple Leafs core players. As a result, from what I read I believe he embraced the trade.
I’m sure he believed he would have a different (and fuller) opportunity with his new team. His versatility would allow him to find a place in any of the Senators’ line combinations and grow to be a scoring option for his new team.
In fact, that’s exactly what has happened. Brown has become the Senators’ leading scorer. In 66 games this season, he’s scored 14 goals and 26 assists for 40 points. Brown had only eight goals and 29 points in 82 games last season in Toronto. This season is by far his finest in the NHL.
He’s also been a go-to guy and has averaged more than 20 minutes of ice time per game. Only start defenseman Thomas Chabot has averaged significantly more (with over 26 minutes of ice time per game).
In short, Brown has found a home on the Senators and has become one of the team’s leaders.
Connor Brown’s Season’s Highlights
On October 17, Brown had assists on both Ottawa goals in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. Those assists gave him five points in his first six games.
On October 27, Brown scored a goal and an assist against the San Jose Sharks in a 5-2 Senators victory. All season long, Brown had played the passer and had registered assists on his teammates’ goals. However, against the Sharks, he scored for the first time. That gave the 25-year-old one goal and nine assists in his first 11 games – almost a point-a-game player.
On November 13, Brown had two assists in a 4-2 Senators win over the New Jersey Devils. He scored assists on two of then-teammate Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s three goals, including his game-winner. Brown was having a strong season with 14 points in his first 18 games with the Senators, but he’d only scored only two goals.
On December 4, Brown scored a goal and an assist in a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Interestingly, Brown set up new-Oiler (and then Senators’ teammate) Tyler Ennis late in the second period. Until this point, Brown had been languishing with only one assist in his previous nine games. Those two-points gave Brown three goals and 14 assists for 17 points in 29 games for the season.
On December 23, Brown had two assists – both in the third period – against the Buffalo Sabres in a 3-1 win. Again he had an assist on Pageau’s game-winner and Brady Tkachuk’s empty-netter. At this point in the season, Brown had scored six goals and 23 points in 38 games.
On December 30, in a 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Brown scored an assist. This assist gave him three goals and three assists in his last nine games. It was also becoming evident that the 26-year-old forward was now on pace for a career season. He’s totaled 24 points (six goals, 18 assists) in 40 games. This is by far his best season – his previous career-high of 36 points was set during 2016-17.
On January 2, in a 6-3 loss to the Florida Panthers, Brown scored his seventh goal of the season. He had scored only two goals through the first two months of the season, but had picked up his scoring pace since the start of December and had scored five goals in his last 13 games.
On January 14, in a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, Brown scored a goal and an assist. It was Brown’s sixth multi-point game of the season.
On January 16, against the Golden Knights, Brown scored a goal and an assist in a 4-2 loss. It was Brown’s first power-play goal of the season. Since last season, his playing time had come to average over 20 minutes a night; last season he only played 13:48 a night. He’s become a go-to guy for new Senators head coach D.J. Smith. He’s also becoming one of the core young Senators players, along Thomas Chabot and Brady Tkachuk who will lead this team into their future.
On February 24, Brown was the game’s first star when he scored two goals in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. In this game, he set a new career-high in points with 38 (13 goals, 25 assists) in 63 games.
Finally, on February 27, Brown scored a goal and an assist in a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. It was Brown’s second multiple-point game in his past three.
The Season’s Summary for Connor Brown
The summary for Brown is that, over this rebuilding season, he’s become one of the Senators go-to players and a key part of the team going forward. Actually, few hockey forecasters would have given the Senators much of a chance to do well this season, but they are far from the worst NHL team.
In fact, the team has been competitive all season long. Much of this success has to do with coach Smith; however, certainly part of it is carried on the shoulders of Connor Brown.
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