Maple Leafs forward Connor Brown
has impressed in his first few days of training camp.
With size always being a concern for the prospect, Brown was able to put on 10 pounds in the offseason. The addition in size could be just what he needs to force the coaching staff to make a difficult decision prior to the final cuts.
“That’s the plan,” said Brown with a smile. “Coming in, I feel like I have a pretty good shot here and I feel great at camp so far.”
Brown will be put to the test tonight as the Leafs play a pair of pre-season games against the Ottawa Senators. He will see top line minutes, playing on the right wing of a line that is centred by Tyler Bozak and flanked by James van Riemsdyk.
“That’s a pretty cool opportunity playing at the ACC playing with that line,” added Brown.
Having yet to play a game in the NHL, Leafs management is pleased with Brown’s progression. It’s rare when you see a player with no NHL resume be chosen by management to skip the rookie tournament that precedes training camp.
“I assume that’s a good thing that I got to skip that step,” said Brown. “Hopefully they think I’m beyond that so I took that as a positive.”
Head Coach Mike Babcock will get his first chance to see how his players deal with what they’ve been taught during their three day jaunt to Halifax. While not knowing a lot about his players, he does know about Brown.
“I like him,” said Babcock. “He works hard, skates fast, looks like he’s smart, let’s watch him.”
Brown’s enthusiasm has been infectious, and his teammates have taken notice.
“I remember playing with him two camps ago and you could tell then that he was smart,” said James van Riemsdyk. “Now I think he’s a little bit bigger and faster and I think that’s definitely helped him.”
Projected lineups for tonight’s games…
JVR – Bozak – Brown
Grabner – Nylander – Setoguchi
Winnik – Spaling – Parenteau
Leipsic – Carrick – Panik
Gardiner – Rielly
Marincin – Polak
Loov – Percy
Matthias – Kadri – Lupul
Timashov – Holland – Boyes
Glencross – Arcobello – Kapanen
Hyman – Froese – Clune
Hunwick – Phaneuf
Harrington – Robidas
Valiev – Brennan