On the opening day of NHL free agency, the Washington Capitals acquired winger Connor Brown from the Ottawa Senators for a second-round draft selection. Brown, a multi-time 20-goal scorer, is a versatile top-six forward that also shores up the team’s penalty-killing unit.
With Tom Wilson still rehabbing after offseason knee surgery, there’s a hole atop the Capitals lineup. Head coach Peter Laviolette told 106.7 The Fan’s Sports Junkies on the first day of Training Camp that Brown will get a real chance to fill that hole.
“I think everybody likes Connor Brown,” Laviolette said. “Most teams across the league, most people watching him play. They like him, he’s got a tenacity to his game. He plays the game hard, he competes hard. He’s able to chip in offensively with 20-plus goal seasons as well. We feel like we got a really good piece to just move through the lineup. I’m not sure where exactly it will start for him (in the regular season). He’s gonna get a look in different places. He’ll get a look on the Kuznetsov line, he’ll get a look with Lars Eller. He’s gonna find different places to go.”
Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov have played nearly 1,500 minutes together at five-on-five over the past three seasons. Riding shotgun with them, for the most part, has been Wilson who had to have the ACL in his left knee repaired after tearing it in the playoffs against the Florida Panthers. Wilson is expected to be out until early December at best.
“Because of what we’re dealing with, with Tom and Nick, I’m not sure where it’s going to fit,” Laviolette continued. “So, we’re going to try things in practice, we’re going to try some things in exhibition games and see where it goes and what looks good with Kuzy and Ovi. If we can find the right mix there it could be him. We’ll give him a look and we’ll see.”
The other natural options on the roster other than Brown for that role include TJ Oshie, Anthony Mantha, and Marcus Johansson. Though Oshie missed the first day of Training Camp as a precaution due to offseason surgery.
Brown is no stranger to playing with superstars as he’s skated alongside both Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews in the past. The 28-year-old winger was asked in July about potentially playing with the Capitals’ elite Russian talent on the first line.
“I think it would be easy,” Brown said. “There’s two of the biggest talents in the league for a long time. I’ve been on the other side of it. Obviously, it would be amazing to play with those two guys. This team’s got lots of good players up and down the lineup so I don’t think there’s a bad spot you can fall. I think I’ll have some time up there and throughout the lineup. When it comes to playing with those guys, they’re world-class players, fun to watch, and a lot of fun to play with.”
Brown is going into the final season of a three-year, $10.8 million contract he signed in October of 2020 with Ottawa that pays him $3.6 million per season. He will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Perhaps, motivation to try and grab a spot atop the lineup and stay there.
“I don’t know if it’s a prove-it year,” Brown said. “I think, six years in the league and I’ve been pretty consistent throughout my time especially over the last three years night-in, night-out, doing what I do. I’m looking at this year as an opportunity to win. I’m looking to get back into the playoffs. I want to play some meaningful hockey. More than anything, I’m just trying not to focus too internally on what my future holds and try to do whatever I can to help the team win.”
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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