ColoradoAvalanche.com is profiling draft-eligible prospects leading up to the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo on June 24-25. Logan Brown is the No. 7-ranked North American skater in the NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings. The Avalanche has the 10th overall selection at the draft.
Logan Brown is carrying the momentum that improved his ranking from No. 14 at the mid-term list to a final spot of No. 7, making him the highest-rated center among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.
Competing for the Ontario Hockey League’s Windsor Spitfires, the forward stands above most others at his position because of his still-growing 6-foot-6, 220-pound frame. He's also displayed a massive amount of skill this past season after leading the team with 53 assists while also contributing 21 goals.
"He is a kid with unlimited potential, good size, a lot of skill and a high-hockey IQ," said Spitfires general manager Warren Rychel to NHL.com. "A player like Logan is hard to find."
Brown's physical attributes fit this year’s NHL draft class, which features several big skaters projected to go early in the first round.
"In this draft especially there are a lot of big guys who can skate and stickhandle," said Brown, who was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, but raised in the St. Louis, Missouri, area. "But I like to think I have those qualities along with good hockey sense.
"I've been pretty big my entire life but have also put in a lot of work on the ice every day. I work on having quick feet and that explosiveness that might help me become one of those better skaters."
Brown’s improvement throughout the year was on display during his performance with Team USA at the 2016 IIHF Under-18 World Championship in April, where his offensive ability yielded 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in seven games, which was fourth best among all skaters at the tournament. The United States finished with a bronze medal after its 10-3 rout of Canada in which Brown scored twice and notched one assist.
Following a successful first OHL season with Windsor that had him named to the league's Second All-Rookie Team in 2014-15, Brown exploded in the 2015-16 season for the Spitfires. In 59 outings, he had the team's second-highest point total (74) and finished with a plus-24 rating.
His efforts during the regular season contributed in helping the team get a berth to the postseason, where Windsor was eventually defeated in five games by the Kitchener Rangers in the opening round of the OHL Playoffs. Still, Brown was able to connect for six assists.
Brown's role on the Spitfires was significant, and his fellow draft-eligible teammates took notice.
"He's one of our best forwards for sure, and if we didn't have him I think we'd be stuck up the middle," said Windsor D-man Logan Stanley, who is ranked 19th on the North American skater list, to NHL.com. "He's a big presence and very skilled. In practice he's hard to contain. He plays in a big guy's body, but he's got the skill set of a smaller forward with the way he protects the puck and uses his body."
"He's so big, he plays like Jaromir Jagr, something like that ability," added blueliner Mikhail Sergachev, Central Scouting’s No. 8-ranked North American skater.
There is also a unique additional degree of competition for the 18-year-old in the OHL. His father, Jeff, is the general manager and head coach of the Ottawa 67’s.
"It's pretty funny because people always ask me if I'm able to get systems out of him while not letting out any of our secrets," Brown said of his dad. "I have an idea what he might do, but he's a really good coach. If I think I've figured out his system, he'll find a way to adjust."
Despite their opposition in the OHL, his father, a former NHL player, has had a large influence on him. Jeff Brown registered 584 points in 13 seasons with Quebec, St. Louis, Vancouver, Carolina/Hartford, Toronto and Washington.
"I coached him basically his whole life, and he always was one of the hardest workers on the team," Jeff Brown said about his son. "He was always tall so he was used to his size. It wasn't as if he had a growth spurt and had to suddenly get used to it."
Logan Brown has also spent time reflecting on his father’s career and credits him for much of his inspiration to play the game.
"When I watched those tapes, that's when I decided I wanted to play in the NHL," Logan Brown remarked. "It became a dream for me. I think the greatest memory I have of a game was when he sprung Pavel Bure from the defensive zone with a tape-to-tape pass that led to the goal that beat the Calgary Flames in overtime (in the 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs).”
The young center’s hockey background extends from his family to his hometown of St. Louis, where as a kid he played with the St. Louis Junior Blues program and was able to learn from NHL stars Keith Tkachuk and Al MacInnis.
"They all put a lot of work into developing our 1996, 1997 and 1998 [born] age groups and that was huge," Brown said. "We've had a lot of success stories coming out of St. Louis ever since."
Waiting for his chance at the upcoming draft, Brown looks to become the next success story out of the Midwest city.