Whether size matters has been an argument for seemingly forever. From a NHL perspective, while smaller players (think under six feet tall) have been present and successful based on their talent, it does play a role. Being large makes it more possible to be in charge in various situations, particularly physical ones. I'd like to think exceptional skill does overcome stature - think Brian Gionta - but somebody big with exceptional skill is always going to draw attention to scouts and teams. Today's subject for this prospect profile may fit that bill, it's Logan Brown.
Who is Logan Brown?
Logan Brown was born on March 5, 1998 in Raleign, North Carolina. According to his profile at Elite Prospects, Brown is listed at 6'6" and 218 pounds. That definitely qualifies as being "big." He just finished his second season with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League as a center. It was a season that featured a point-per-game-plus rate of production, an appearance at the CHL Top Prospects Game, and representing the United States at the World U-18 Junior Championships. Here are his numbers at Elite Prospects:
Let's put Brown's numbers in perspective. His twelve points at the U-18 WJCs was the fourth most in the entire tournament. Only Tyson Jost (Brian's profile), Clayton Keller (my profile), and Kailer Yamamoto (2017 eligible) put up more points. Needless to say, he was a standout. According to the OHL website, Brown's 74 points put him tied for eighteenth in league scoring with Devils prospect, Blake Speers. Being a top-twenty scorer is quite good.
However, there is something worth noting with his regular season production. The OHL finally has upgraded their stats page for this season and now includes shots on net. Brown only took 158 shots on net, an average of 2.6 per game. With 21 goals, Brown's shooting percentage was 13.2%. Out of the 24 players who put up more than 70 points in the OHL last season, only Brown, Josh Ho-Sang (131 shots on net), Aaron Berisha (195 SOG), Kyle Maxsimkovich (153 SOG), and Julius Nattinen (103 SOG) put up fewer than 200 shots on net. It is true that Brown was on the same team as Christian Fischer (40 G, 50 A, 226 SOG) and Brown did put up more assists than goals, but it also makes me wonder about his shot and whether he can create it, he prefers to defer the puck, and so forth. To answer that and to learn more about the player, let's see how others rate him.
Where is Logan Brown Ranked?
As Brown is a projected first-rounder, his rankings are worth looking at. Thanks to Elite Prospects' Draft Center, there's a combination of his rankings from various services. I've also added Steve Kournianos' rankings from his monthly Top 250 at The Draft Analyst. Here are Brown's rankings as of May 22, 2016:
|NHL CSS||HockeyProspect.com||ISS||Future Considerations||McKeen's||Kournianos|
|7 – NA||16||7||14||13||16|
The rankings from each service were taken at different times. HockeyProspect.com's and Future Considerations' rankings were given in February and March, respectively. Kournianos' Top 250 was from April, although it's worth noting that he had Brown going twelfth in a mock draft he did earlier this month. International Scouting Services (ISS) has performed the most recent rankings and, perhaps not coincidentally, ranked him the best. Central Scouting Services listed him as the seventh best North American skater, a seven spot jump from 14th in their midterm rankings. This suggests to me that Brown's stock may rise as services release new rankings and consider how other players ended their 2015-16 campaign.
What Others Say About Logan Brown
Let's start with his profile at Elite Prospects. It includes this short description by Tyler Parchem:
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. (Tyler Parchem, EP 2016)
Interesting that he isn't overly physical given he would tower over most of his peers in the OHL. I don't think it's a concern but it is worth noting. Also of note, if he has a good shot with a pro-like release, then why didn't he use it more?
Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst has ranked Brown 16th in his April Top 250, but has him going twelfth overall in a recent Mock Draft he did earlier this month . In it, his short take on Brown is that he has "sick playmaking abilities and a deadly shot (when he uses it)." Hmm. He has a more in-depth profile on Brown. This part of it stuck out to me:
He can be a joy to watch, using above-average speed but a powerful long stride and reach to protect the puck off the rush. He’s an excellent passer, blessed with a sixth sense to anticipate and dissect the defensive scheme presented to him. Brown owns a very heavy shot — one of the draft’s best among forwards — which he can fire with accuracy off the pass via a quick release. He was a bit pass-happy the first few months of the season, but his coachability and dedication towards refining his all-around game resulted in a goal-scoring explosion since January.
This was refreshing to read on Brown. Not only does it confirm that he has a good shot, but he was using it more and more as the season went on and for gains on the ice. That would explain the fairly low shot totals; he had to build up to it. I wonder if some season splits are available? Kournianos' profile notes that he would have liked to have seen him play with more consistency. I'd like think that's what that refers to; that a full season of Brown playing more like he did since January.
As Brown played in the OHL, then it's imperative to look up what Brock Otten of OHL Prospects thinks of him. Otten has done a fantastic job putting up his opinions on the major junior league for years. He recently revealed his rankings for OHL-based prospects for the draft and he put Brown fourth among them all. Here's a snippet of his opinion on Brown as a player:
But we can't forget that Brown was a projected top 10 pick coming into the year. He led all 1998's in scoring in the OHL last year (as a rookie). But a poor showing at the Ivan Hlinka camp, followed by an average start (and poor middle) to the OHL season saw him drop to the late first round on many lists. But he was flat out dominant late in the year. In the final 24 games he had 38 points, including 12 multi point games. Then he put up 12 points for the U.S. at the U18's to help them capture the Bronze. But the rise is more than just production based. It's how he was doing it. The knock on Brown has always been his inability to use his size to dominate the middle of the ice consistently, in addition to a wavering intensity level without the puck. He's always been fantastic along the wall, and off the rush, using his size to protect the puck. But the second half of the year, it was like the light finally went on and Brown realized how dominant he could be if he started attacking the net with consistency.
This section highlights the one issue regarding Brown: consistency. In corroboration with Kournianos' profile, it appears that Brown got the message from a coach or someone to just use his gifts more often. The result is seen in his production and it goes to why he's touted in this coming draft as he is. Will he still use them as he did to close out 2015-16? That remains as an open question and it can make a big difference as to whether he's in the top ten of this year's draft or not. Otten is definitely a fan, although he notes that Brown should learn to be more confident in his shot. I would think that's one other area that could use work; not so much the shot itself but the mindset to just fire away. Otten also thinks he may be even bigger than he's listed, which would be massive.
As usual, I will give the last word of this section to Ben Kerr of The Last Word on Sports. As part of his Top Shelf Prospects feature, he's written a comprehensive profile on Brown. It even goes into his skating, which he sees as good, and his play in his own end of the rink, which he describes as "effective." This part of the profile stood out to me:
Brown has the ability to put the puck on the tape, and make saucer passes to get it through traffic in order to set up teammates. He uses his size to be physical on the forecheck, as well as to win battles for pucks down low, and establish position in front of the net. When we talk about Brown’s physicality, he is not throwing huge highlight reel checks, but he is more than willing to get involved in battles and does not shy away from contact. The scary thing is that Brown can be even stronger, as there is still room to add more muscle to his frame. Brown must learn to be more consistent game-to-game, as doing that over the final stretch and the OHL playoffs could shoot him even higher on the draft board.
This speaks to the notion that while Brown may have a good shot and he may be coaxed into using it more, he may really be more of a playmaker. I see that as a positive as I think it may be easier to get someone to shoot more than to make better passes. What's also interesting in this section is that Kerr think Brown can be stronger, which is already something in his favor given his very large frame.
A Little Video
As Brown is a significant prospect, there's plenty of video on him. There's three I want to show off. First off, from user ProssPark, this is a shift-by-shift video of Brown's performance for Windsor against Saginaw on December 17, 2015. This video has no commentary but it does show 22 minutes of Brown putting in work on and off the puck in all situations. You can see his strength in passing the puck while keeping up with most plays; he's wearing #21 in this video:
Should you want commentary with a shift-by-shift video and want to see Brown play in 2014-15, then check out this video by HockeyPwns. Moving back to this season, bigwhite06 put together two videos of highlights by Brown. This compilation is from Brown's 2015-16 OHL season:
That pass at about the 1:10 mark is fantastic and he has assists similar to that throughout the video. It's good stuff. The second one is a compilation of highlights from his performance at the 2016 World U-18 Junior Championships. He's wearing #27 in this video:
Very early on in the video, you can see Brown hammer in a one-timer for one of his three goals in the tournament. The video has other shots and assists, both of which show a player who's got plenty of skill. For those who want to see some 'D,' then you'll enjoy his backcheck to deny a breakaway at the 2:49 - 2:52 mark of the video.
An Opinion of Sorts
Kerr's profile notes that Brown's game is similar to Joe Thornton in terms of style. Otten's blurb in his ranking makes him think that Brown is a bit like Mats Sundin. I'm done reading and watching all of this on Brown and I'm reminded a bit of Pavel Zacha. Not so much in how he plays, but in terms of how he's regarded ahead of the draft. Zacha, who the Devils drafted in the sixth overall in 2015, was profiled by Mike last year and the sense I got was that he was someone who had a lot of the tools but didn't quite have the toolbox yet. The thinking was that maybe a top ten selection would have been a bit of a reach. A year later, it's clearer he's got it and it doesn't look like to much of a reach.
Brown is similar in that he appears to be a very good passer of the puck, he's good at skating, he's good off the puck, he can use his large frame to his advantage, and his shot is good. He's got the tools. Yet, reading that he didn't always have the consistency to use those skills together to dominate at his level makes me think further refinement is needed. The toolbox, not so much. I know Brown turned it up in the second half of the 2015-16 season and had a strong performance at the World U-18 Junior Championships. How much a team believes that's more representative to what Brown will become will guide where he's picked. To that end, I can see why his rankings from other services have varied from the bottom part of the top ten to around the fifteenth overall.
Would I want the Devils to consider him at eleventh overall? Absolutely. Like Keller, Brown appears to be more of a creator on offense than a finisher; someone who passes more than they shoot. Those who've seen him think he's got a good shot, they also conclude that he needs to use it more. Given his production, he can still contribute on the scoresheet in that sense. But his past season did show an improvement within the season and I'd like to think he's coachable enough to keep refining his game. I don't think he just got hot for a little bit. While I would think Keller's better at being a playmaker than Brown, I can see Brown remaining as a center given his large frame in addition to his skills. That may given him an edge compared to other prospects whether they're smaller or need more time to develop their game for the professional level. Given the Devils' need for creative forwards both on the roster and prospect level, selecting Brown would fit this need. I still think Keller would be the ideal pick. But if Keller isn't available, I think Brown would be the next-ideal pick.
Logan Brown appears to be someone who will go in the first half of the first round, and he could end up being a Devil on June 24. He's big, he's very good at making plays happen on offense, and he's able to get around well to make plays off the puck. What do you think, after having read the profiles and/or seen the videos? Would you want the Devils to pick him in the first round if he's available? If you've seen him play in person, what did you think of him? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Brown in the comments. Thank you for reading.