At 15th in the Nation Network draft rankings we have one of the most interesting prospects of the 2016 class, Logan Brown.
Brown’s upside is obvious: he’s a 6’6 centre who put up 74 points in 59 games in the OHL this season. On paper, he sounds like a certain top-ten pick. But he has been dogged by questions of consistency, effort, and play away from the puck. Some of those issues were addressed over the course of the season, and Brown shot upwards in many draft rankings as a result.
The possibility of drafting a big number one centre outside of the top five won’t be taken lightly by teams. But will GM’s be eager to use valuable early first-round picks on a player with Brown’s question marks? He might have the most uncertainty of any first-rounder in this draft — he could feasibly be drafted anywhere between the number 6 and number 20 slots.
Age: 18 (March 5th, 1998)
Birthplace: Raleigh, USA
Frame: 6’6, 218 lbs
Draft Year Team: Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
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From The Draft Analyst:
Massive playmaking two-way center with a lethal shot who’s been centering Windsor’s top line all season. The son of Ottawa 67’s head coach Jeff Brown — a former all-star defenseman in the NHL — Logan is a physical specimen indeed, using a massive wingspan and strength to win his puck battles and transition quickly to offense. He can be a joy to watch, using above-average speed but a powerful long stride and reach to protect the puck off the rush. He’s an excellent passer, blessed with a sixth sense to anticipate and dissect the defensive scheme presented to him. Brown owns a very heavy shot — one of the draft’s best among forwards — which he can fire with accuracy off the pass via a quick release.
Brown is a huge center that excels at both ends of the ice. He can be dominant in the offensive zone but takes care of his own end as well. His 6’6 frame is key to his success as he uses his body to shield his puck and his reach to keep it off other players sticks. He is not overly physical for a player his size, but will finish every check and battle down low very effectively. He has a good shot with a pro like release as well as good creativity and maturity when passing the puck.
We have Brown ranked at number 15, but I would be pretty damn surprised if he’s still available at that slot. His upside is too tantalizing — he has that kind of “how was he not picked earlier?” potential.
That said, the questions around Brown are very real. He came in at 12th in Corey Pronman’s final rankings [subscription], but was as low as 28th in February:
Brown often gets tagged by scouts I’ve talked to for “dogging it” with his off-puck play. He leaves you wanting on many occasions. I had to be persuaded by scouts I’ve talked with to put him even this high.
To his credit, Brown seems to have addressed those issues in the latter half of the season. But the questions remain. Would Brown be in the same conversation as Matthew Tkachuk, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Alex Nylander without those issues? Will an NHL team ignore the issues and use a top-ten pick on him for sheer upside?
Brown is 6’6, but is far from a traditional power forward. He plays centre and is much more of a playmaker than a shooter, but has an absolute weapon of a wrister when he chooses to use it. His passing is uncanny: he very often manages to find a seam to move the puck to a teammate that others wouldn’t even notice. He uses his size sparingly, but to good effect.
Any of that sound familiar?
Almost every scouting report you read about Brown mentions Joe Thornton as a comparable. And as silly as it is to compare any 18 year old to Jumbo Joe, the stylistic similarities are certainly there.
But as skilled as Brown is, I’m not sure he belongs in the same conversation as guys like Tkachuk, Dubois, and Nylander just because he put it all together for the second half of this season. Each of those three players put up more points than Brown without raising the same effort/defence/consistency questions.
Brown was a star for Windsor this year and lit up the U-18 World Junior’s for 12 points in 7 games; he is a great, great prospect.
And maybe if you’re the Montreal Canadiens at number 9, a high-reward choice like Brown makes all the sense in the world. I think ranking him #15, as we have done, is a little conservative. But in a draft where most rankings are in pretty close agreement on the top ten, Brown is a wildcard. His statistical outlook is good, albeit with a small sample. He only has five pGPS comparables, 4 of whom went on to legit NHL careers. At the top end of that group are Jason Arnott and Rick Nash; at the other end are Chad Kilger and Taylor Pyatt, who never quite lived up to their perceived potential.
Like every other prospect, he has the potential to make every team that passes on him regret it, or make the team that picks him regret reaching. Brown just has a little more of that potential than most.