Earlier this spring, Windsor Spitfires forward and dual citizen Logan Brown opted to play for the United States at the World U18 Championships, more or less locking him in to play for the US internationally in the future. Brown was a player regarded with high potential, but it wasn't really clear how big a coup it was for USA Hockey. Brown was ranked somewhere in the mid-to-late first round due to his upside, but hadn't really shown his full capabilities yet.
But winning Brown's services immediately paid dividends for USA Hockey as Brown had a great World U18s, which positioned him as a top ten draft pick in this year's Draft, and a player that could be a star for USA Hockey for a long time.
Player: Logan Brown
Team: Windsor Spitfires(OHL)
Height: 6'6" Weight: 220 lbs.
Stats: 59 games, 21 goals, 53 assists 74 points, +24
Final NHL Central Scouting rank: 7th among North American skaters
What I Like:
-Uses his frame to protect the puck
Brown has a huge frame at 6'6" and uses it to his advantage. He's good at protecting the puck with his body in the open ice, but what I really like about his game is his ability to do that along the boards in the offensive zone. His ability to get the puck off the wall and set up scoring chances is very rare. In this clip, he takes a puck along the boards, draws two defenders, and is able to get the puck to an open teammate:
That skill is especially valuable on the power play because Brown has the ability to get the puck off the wall in scramble situations and establish clean possession for his team. The more time spent working the puck around and attacking, the better a power play is going to be.
Brown has tremendous hands for a big man and he's a really unselfish player. He's really good when he has time to survey the ice and find an open lane, and when he has to make a quick play under pressure, as you can see in the two clips below.
-Finally putting it all together
Brown is a player that has been on the radar for quite some time, both because he was huge, and because he's the son of a former NHLer and well-known coach in Jeff Brown. But there were legitimate questions about if he'd ever turn that huge potential into anything. Brown was cut from Canada's Ivan Hlinka camp last summer, and when I saw him in December, I wasn't overly impressed. But the World U18s was really his coming out party, where he showed the type of player that everyone hoped he could be some day. It seems like the light has finally started to come on for him.
What I Don't Like:
-Doesn't shoot enough
Brown is such a terrific passer that sometimes he relies on it too much, at the expense of putting the puck on net. He's a big guy and can really fire the puck when he does shoot that he could be even more effective if he looked for his shot more often.
NHL Central Scouting essentially has Brown ranked at 10th overall, while I put him at 7th. It's tough to see him going too much higher because there are some really good names ahead of him that he'd have to unseat. But at the same time, many people have made the comparison to Joe Thornton, and that might not be too far off. I can't imagine too many teams passing over a Joe Thornton. I don't think it would be too much of a reach if he went as high as fourth overall, and I can't see him lasting past the top ten picks.
I mentioned the Joe Thornton comparison, which is lofty praise, but Brown plays a similar style as a pass-first big man whose size and hands make for a near unstoppable combination. Brown has definite first line star potential if he keeps building on the upward development curve he has shown late this year.