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FORMER LEAF EXCITED TO START FRESH WITH NEW TEAM

AUG 14, 2022  (17H40)      BRADLEY CELSIE
Every now and again, a player finds himself in a bit of a rut. Whether that comes from the city he plays in, the role he plays on the team or just having no chemistry with the other players on the team, it can lead to those players simply just fighting it and not enjoying themselves. Sometimes a change of scenery is needed. Such is the case for former Leaf Connor Brown.

As per NHL dot com, Brown is excited to be joining the Washington Capitals and why wouldn't he be? The former sixth round draft pick of the 2012 NHL entry draft (156th overall) was traded this off-season by the Senators to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a second round draft pick in 2024. In a recent interview, Brown revealed that he expects to have a similar role as he had here in Toronto, as opposed to the role he was expected to play in Ottawa. His full quotes are available below.

It took a while to sink in, but it's full-speed ahead moving forward now. I think we're going to be good. There's a lot to be excited about. I'm just focused on what I can add to what's already been a really good team for a lot of years

I talked to [Laviolette] a little bit and it was about doing different things: facing the other team's power plays, moving up and down the lineup, playing with top guys, playing here and there, things like that. It's a similar role that I've had throughout my career. It's always good when you're on the same page as your coach and when he sees you the same way you see yourself.

As Leaf fans will remember, Brown played a similar role here in Toronto, particularly in his rookie season when he played the majority of the year along side Auston Matthews. In the summer of 2019, after three full seasons of playing for the Leafs, Brown was traded to the Ottawa Senators as a sweetener for the Sens to take on the contract of Russian defenseman Nikita Zaitsev. Additionally, at the time, Brown had been surpassed on the Leafs depth chart by wingers such as Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen. Ultimately, keeping Brown around would have been difficult, given the Leafs' salary cap situation.

Brown, now 28, has tallied 216 career points (90 goals & 126 assists) throughout his 7-year NHL career. His career high in points came in his first year with the Senators (2019-20), when he produced 43 points (16 goals & 27 assists) in 71 games. Brown is entering the final year of a three year contract, which carries a cap hit of $3.6 million.

Brown is a good defensive player who excels on the penalty kill. In fact, over the past two seasons, no forward has averaged more penalty killing ice time than Brown. He also has the ability to slot in beside elite players, which makes him a bit of a dual threat. It is likely we get to see him, at least at times, play with Caps star forward Alexander Ovechkin this coming season, likely in a role where he'll be expected to dig out the pick and dish to The Great 8.

Assuming he does not sign an extension with the Caps this season, this could work out really well for the Toronto native. Headed for unrestricted free agency next year, if Brown puts up a career season offensively, given his defensive pedigree, he could ink a similar payday next off-season to that of Ilya Mikheyev. Mikheyev signed a four-year deal worth $19 million ($4.75 million AAV) with the Canucks earlier this off-season. One thing is for sure, this season brings a huge opportunity for Brown.
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