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What Connor Brown Brings to the Capitals

What exactly does Downtown Connor Brown bring to the Washington lineup? Let’s take a look...

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Ottawan Sentaors v Washington Capitals Photo by John McCreary/NHLI via Getty Images

On the first day of free agency last week, the Washington Capitals acquired right winger Connor Brown from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a 2024 second-round NHL draft pick. Brown appears primed as Tom Wilson’s replacement until Wilson returns from his ACL surgery, and Brown’s versatility will allow Coach Laviolette to continue to move him around the lineup once Wilson comes back. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the 6’-0”, 185lb forward can bring to the Washington lineup this season.

via @JFresh
via The Athletic

Connor Brown is a hard-working winger with excellent puck-moving ability and solid overall hockey instincts. He is an excellent two-way player whose offense has been on the rise over the last few seasons. He finished the 2021-2022 season with 39 points, just four points off the career-high of 43 he set in 2019-2020. He did, however, set a new career high in assists with 29. He averaged 1.6 points per 60 minutes, while skating an average of 20:03 per game. Most importantly, he did all of this while playing on a mediocre team. The Ottawa Senators were the league’s seventh-worst team last season, going 33-42-7 and finishing with a -39 goal differential. Imagine what he could do with better linemates, on a better team...

Brown is great at getting to the puck, which will make him an asset on the Caps’ top line – get the puck to Ovechkin or Kuznetsov and they can fill in the rest. Per game last season he averaged 7.63 offensive-zone loose puck recoveries, 1.39 offensive-zone puck battle wins, and 16 total loose puck recoveries. He has actively made stealing pucks a part of his game over the years, and that kind of persistence with the puck will be very welcome in Washington’s lineup.

In addition to being a threat at five-on-ive, Connor Brown loves playing on the penalty kill. He prides himself on his “tenacious” defensive play and is a self-proclaimed penalty kill specialist. In fact, since 2019, no forward has skated more shorthanded minutes than Brown and only one (some dude named Jay Beagle) has averaged more than Brown’s 2:42 of shorthanded TOI per game. Washington’s penalty kill does not necessarily need major assistance coming out of last season, but bringing Brown into the lineup gives them much more flexibility. Not only will he fill Wilson’s spot on the PK, which is no small task because Wilson led all Washington forwards in shorthanded ice time last season, but he can also cover some of the minutes Carl Hagelin would usually skate and even take over some minutes from players like Lars Eller.

Brown can be dangerous shorthanded as well, with 17 points (8G, 9A) shorthanded throughout his career. Since 2019, only three forwards have more shorthanded points than Brown, who has 11. He also only took five minor penalties last season, recording his lowest PIM total since his first full NHL season in 2016-2017 with the Leafs. A responsible forward who is also a vital part of the penalty kill? Yes please!

Bottom line: the Capitals’ acquisition of Connor Brown might not have been the splashiest move they made last week, but it could prove to be one of the most fruitful. Even after Wilson returns from his injury and Brown presumably moves down in the lineup, he is poised to make quite the impact in Washington.

Data courtesy of NatStatTrick, Hockey Reference, and HockeyViz.