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Brown's evolution will continue with Wild

Former UMD Bulldog has transformed his game from big-time scorer to grinder

by Dan Myers @DanMyers / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- The evolution of J.T. Brown hasn't always been easy, but for the Burnsville native and former Rosemount High School standout, it's been a necessary one.

A high-volume scorer in both the USHL and in two years at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where he helped the Bulldogs win a national championship in 2011, Brown hasn't posted the kind of offensive numbers he did during his amateur days.

He's simply done what he's needed to in order to give himself the best chance of staying in the National Hockey League. 

Brown signed a two-year contract with the Wild on Sunday as he looks to continue his hockey career where it all began. 

"Let's be real, not everybody can be a superstar. There's only so many to go around," Brown said. "It's always an adjustment at first. Most importantly is I wanted to play in this league. I made sure that I did what I had to in the situations that I was in to make sure I stayed here."

Tweet from @mnwild: �� welcome home to the #StateOfHockey @JTBrown23! pic.twitter.com/4sJ2oRCxpa

The speedy right wing scored 24 goals and 47 points during his sophomore season at UMD, signing a free agent contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning and playing in five games at the end of that season. 

After playing in 51 games in the AHL during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, Brown played mostly in the NHL the following season, skating in 63 games. 

He posted his best offensive season in 2015-16, when he scored eight goals and 22 points in 78 games with the Lightning.

After being in and out of the lineup in Tampa the past two seasons, he was traded to Anaheim mid-season last year, playing in 23 games and scoring a goal and three points with the Ducks. 

"For me I wouldn't say [the role adjustment] was very difficult because I knew what my end goal was," Brown said. "I wanted to play in the NHL and I wanted to stay there. It was about being open and willing to do whatever it took to stay there."

In terms of his offensive ability at the NHL level, Brown said he feels there may be some untapped potential there. Wild General Manager Paul Fenton said he hopes Brown can chip in with some ugly, greasy goals around the net. 

"He did score quite a bit in college and he hasn't had the success that you might of thought he was going to," Fenton said. "To play in that role, we're hoping he's a dirty type of goal player, that he's able to get in around the paint and chip in with a lot of ugliness."

Video: Paul Fenton on addition of J.T. Brown

That's fine with Brown, who thought the trade from Tampa to Anaheim last season was beneficial for him and the way he likes to play.

"I tried to play the same style both in the East and the West. You do kind of get a little more of the gritty play in the West more so than the East," Brown said. "That's how I like to play." 

About the only place the Wild believes Brown will need to harden his game is in re-adjusting to Minnesota winters after years away in Florida and Southern California. 

It'll be another adjustment for Brown, but one he's anxious to make.

"I was joking around that I don't own a winter jacket anymore," said Brown, the son of former Minnesota Vikings running back Ted Brown. "That will have to be one of the first purchases."


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