What to Make of Logan Brown and his Connection to the Vancouver Canucks

As draft analysts and scouting organizations connect Logan Brown and the Vancouver Canucks the fan base is becoming increasingly leery. The Canucks have their highest draft pick in nearly two decades and the thought of spending that on a big centre ranked well outside that range is a scary thought for some.

Craig Button of TSN started the firestorm, selecting Brown in the Canucks stead in a mock draft in April. The hype hasn’t exactly cooled since, as Brown impressed at the NHL Draft Combine with his physical testing and interviews alike.

While the concern associated with the Canucks entertaining the idea of selecting Brown fifth overall is fair, his merits as a prospect are being undersold in return. There’s a difference between “Logan Brown is a bad prospect” and “Logan Brown isn’t a smart play at fifth overall”. Brown is still a good prospect in his own right and well deserving of the top-ten selection a team is likely to spend on him. 

So let’s try and split the difference and find out what Brown can offer.

Scouting Report

We had Brown ranked as our 15th best prospect in the Nation Network consensus rankings, but one important note is that we were asked to submit our rankings in late April. Mack Irwin from Jetsnation did a great job breaking down Brown’s game. With that, Tyler Perchem at Elite Prospects, gives us a scout report:

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.

So now that we got the basics out of the way – let’s dig a little deeper.

Logan Brown - P:GP

One concern with Brown is that he is inconsistent, but when we are looking at his P/GP – aside from the usual peaks of the first few weeks, he remains very close to 1.2 PPG throughout the entire season. He also never went more than three games without registering a point, which only happened once. Obviously that is just looking at the points scored and not looking at his play. Through my viewings, there are times when it looks like he may be taking it easy – not a huge red flag, but something that the drafting team will need to account for.

Brown - G:A

A playmaker at heart, Brown consistently put up 7+ assists a month with a slight dip in November and December but nothing to be too concerned about. He had 6 assists in four playoff games before Windsor was eliminated in the first round by Kitchener. The Raleigh, North Carolina native ended the season with 158 shots, which averages out to 2.77 shots/PG. That puts him in the same realm as other playmakers from his draft class. Ideally, we would like him to shoot more, but it isn’t a red flag. For comparison’s sake, his teammate defenceman Mikhail Sergachev had 156 shots.

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 8.29.22 PM

My favourite is the goal from behind the net – but as we can see, the majority of the centres goals were scored in front of the net. He used his size to get there and buried his chances.

Brown’s 21 goals were tied for 12th amongst draft eligible players in the OHL, but his 30 primary assists were ranked 3rd amongst that same peer group behind only Matthew Tkachuk and Taylor Raddysh. Combining those two numbers, 51 of his 74 points were primary points, which means that 31.1% of his points were secondary points. That is a bit of a concern. If Matthew Tkachuk has been questioned for it, so should Brown and it’s important to note that Brown didn’t have the same powerhouse offence that Tkachuk had to work with. The London Knights scored 0.97 G/PG more than Windsor did.

Tkachuk is questioned because he was playing with Mitch Marner and Christian Dvorak and thus was racking up secondary assists. Where Brown was playing with Christian Fischer, who is a good prospect and player in his own right, but not that same calibre as the other two. It’s not a major worry, but it’s something to consider.

Logan Brown did participate in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects game, scoring a goal for Team Cherry:

He wasn’t dominant or particularly noticeable, but didn’t stick out poorly either. He played with speedsters Jordan Kyrou and Max Jones, and their difference in speed was apparent. Brown skates well for his size, but when matched up against an agile skate like Kyrou, he can’t keep up.

Brown also represented the USA at the U18 tournament in North Dakota to end the season – where he posted an impressive 12 points in 7 games. This got scouts excited for his game, as he was dominant in one of the most important tournaments of the U18 calendar. He scored points in every game except the Semi-Finals against Finland, and only one of those points were a secondary assist. Which came in a two goal and one assist performance in the bronze medal game where Canada just didn’t show up.

He was playing mostly with 2017 Top 5 pick Kailer Yamamoto and 6 of those points (plus three against Canada) came against Russia, who was a shell of a team due to the doping scandal, Latvia and Switzerland. So arguably 75% of his points were in ‘garbage’ games. It is worth noting that he had 2 assists against Sweden, who who the Silver Medal.

Garret Hohl at hockeygraphs and Jetsnation developed a new way to look at prospect scoring. Called ‘SEAL-Adjusted’ scoring is uses – Secondary-assist, Era, Age and League to give a balanced look at prospect scoring rates across the prospect world. It’s a very interesting way to look at prospects, and you can read more about it here.

Using SEAL, Hohl determined that Logan Brown is ranked 11th in P/PG adjusted scoring amongst draft eligible forwards in this upcoming draft. While Pierre-Luc Dubois is ranked first and Tkachuk is ranked 4th. Brown falls below some later ranked talents like USHL’s Cameron Morrison and OHL’s Adam Mascherin. Obviously, this is just another metric to use, but still shows where Brown falls in comparison to his peers.

When we look at comparable players and using the pGPS rating (you can read more in-depth about pGPS here) for both of them, Brown had an 80% success rate of going onto becoming NHL regulars:

Player

League

Pos

pGPS n

pGPS s

pGPS %

pGPS P/GP

pGPS R

Logan Brown

OHL

C

5

4

80.00%

0.5801

0.4641

The two most well known successful comparable players are Taylor Pyatt and Jason Arnott. Ideally we would have more matches than five, but due to his size, there isn’t a lot to work with.

Conclusion

Earlier this week, I compared Pierre-Luc Dubois and Matthew Tkachuk and what became clear was that the questions were limited when it came to what you were getting in those two prospects.

‘Can Dubois be a centre at the NHL level?’ and ‘Is Tkachuk driving the offence, or a passenger?’ were the main questions.

When we look at Brown – there is fair belief that there are a bunch of concerns about his game including his skating, consistency and how his U18 production stands up. Not things that will likely hold him back from making it in the NHL, but defiantly talking points and uncertainty.

Craig Button has mentioned that Brown plays like Joe Thornton, so you can understand why teams may want to take the risk, and I think we squashed some of those concerns above, but those questions are still there and that is why taking Brown at 5th overall is a risk. With such a high pick, the Canucks need to limit the risk and it’s clear that taking Brown comes with more risk than taking the other two higher ranked prospects.

Now if the Canucks want to trade down and accumulate more picks and prospects and then select Logan Brown, that is a whole different discussion and likely a worthwhile venture.

To wrap it up in one sentence – Brown is a good prospect that will very likely become an NHL player, but the Canucks need to mitigate that risk, so either take Dubois or Tkachuk, so if they really want to add Logan Brown, trade down and accumulate assets.

  • DSP

    As they say “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. Logan Brown has a fair amount of upside if some of the issues he has can be resolved. He also appears to be a set up man when this team needs someone who can put the puck in the net. If I’m drafting at #10, then maybe, but not at #5. The risks in taking Dubois or Tkachuk are a lot less and even if they Canucks trade away the 5th pick I would prefer to see someone else taken.

  • DSP

    Not Many centerman are 6’6. Heck not many forwards are 6’6 apart from Boyle, Antropov, and Hayes
    Bob Mckenzie said he’s not sure how his face-off game is going to translate with him being so tall, and the ability to get low and draw the puck back.
    6’2 – 6’4 is the ideal height.
    Toews
    Kesler
    Kopitar
    Carter
    are all within that range.
    Dubois is the better choice.

  • DSP

    We’ll see what name is called at the number five, or if the Canucks still pick at the number five at all.

    With everything from trading the pick for Matt Duchesne to trading up to trading down apparently on the table, there remains a fair amount of uncertainty.

    What is certain is that picking a consensus top ten player at number five is not really something that should be described as a “reach”. More like a “difference of opinion”.

    With that said, I doubt Brown is the Canucks selection if they stick with the 5 pick.

  • Steampuck

    Couldn’t we use the same data to argue that “playing with inferior teammates Logan Brown was able to register a high number of points, so there is little question as to whether he was a passenger at Junior”? Also, based on the logic of most of the U18 games being garbage games, why consider player performance there at all?

    I also don’t get the argument that we should pass on someone who is potentially the next Joe Thornton because we want to reduce risk. Recall that Jake Virtanen was the “safe” pick just two years ago. And the howls of derision here were deafening. I’m playing devil’s advocate, but I’ll be amused to see similar epithets thrown at Canucks management if they call Brown to the podium at five. I don’t mean to take anything away from Tkachuk or Dubois, but Brown constitutes the kind of high-risk/high-reward pick that almost warrants the gamble—or, at least, it’s a gamble I could live with. If he is the next Joe Thornton—and JB has looked into his soul at the combine and seen that—I want him to be a Canuck. The simple fact is “we don’t know how any of this is going to turn out.” All three could have pedestrian careers: one could become a franchise player. Or Dante Fabbro could be a future five-time Norris winner, and don’t we wish we’d gambled on that?

    Depending upon what happens at Pick 4, I’m comfortable with the notion that JB has done his due diligence and is picking a player based on potential, character, fit, ability, etc., rather than absentmindedly basing the pick on a player’s size. He’s apparently pretty good at this sort of thing, remember? I think the more interesting question over whether or not Brown is a legitimate candidate for the Canucks at five is the background history/politics with his father and where that stands now and in the future.

    • DSP

      “Or Dante Fabbro could be a future five-time Norris winner, and don’t we wish we’d gambled on that?”

      Absolutely.

      Fabbro is gonna be the guy that 5-7 years from now you look back at the draft and wonder how the heck he was passed up by 10-20 teams. Think Erik Karlsson at 14, or PK Subban in the 2nd.

      Nothing against Logan Brown, but if JB trades down i hope it’s Dante Fabbro’s name he calls.

  • Dirty30

    With McCann traded, drafting a centre (preferably a player with first line potential)would certainly fill a positional need on the Canucks.

    For me, those two players who might be available at No. 5 would be Dubois or Brown.

    Dubois is the safer pick, while Brown is a “swing for the fences” kinda player.

    At first I thought the option of trading down for Brown would be there – which made him a potentially more attractive option depending on the package that could be obtained for the No. 5 pick (Bonjour Marc Bergevin!). However, with the Brown’s stock rising, I’m not sure that option is on the table any more. Heck, Brown may no longer be available at No. 5. Rumor has it that Columbus is looking closely at using the No 3 pick on him.

    We may have to “settle” for Dubois.

  • Dirty30

    How long did it take SJ to get to the SC finals with Smokin’ Joe at the helm?

    And what did he actually do to keep them in the series? Cross-check the 5’11” guy who won the Conn Symthe?

    I agree you need size and skill at Centre, but there doesn’t seem to be any proportionate increase in FO effectiveness past Sid’s height.

    Dubois isn’t going to be Sid, probably not even Phat Phil, but some size, speed and skill shouldn’t be overlooked when you’re skating past the next Smokin’ Joe on your way to score.

  • Dirty30

    “We have a trade to announce! The Vancouver Canucks trade the 5th overall selection, along with the 64th selection and Jordan Subban to Montreal for the 9th pick.. Montreal, you’re on the clock!”

    I can hear it now, oh god no lol
    #BenningDoingBenningThings haha