Connor Brown had heard the chatter, the trade rumors that made their way through the Twitterverse and hockey community. So, when the Ottawa Senators called him telling him he had been dealt, he wasn’t too surprised. However, that changed when he found out that he was headed to the Washington Capitals.
“I kind of figured I was going to be traded, but I didn’t really know Washington was an option. You just hear lots of stuff about different teams,” Brown said. “It was a shock at first, but once it settled in, I’m just so excited.”
The right-wing is no stranger to the Capitals; he has spent his six-year NHL career in the Eastern Conference with the Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs, and he has faced off against the club time in time again. And although he had to be on the other side of the matchup, he was drawn to their style and standards.
“I’ve played against them for years and the way they play… I’m really excited to be a part of it,” Brown said with a smile.
In 64 games for Ottawa last season, Brown dished 10 goals and 29 assists through 64 games. However, the year before that, he put up 21 goals in the COVID-19 shortened season. Beyond his offense, the 28-year-old also played a key role in his own end, leading all Senators forwards in shorthanded ice time (2:38) and had a 3.3 relative Corsi-for percentage at even strength.
READ MORE ON WHN: Strome Opens Up About End Of Tenure In Chicago, New Start With Capitals
Looking at his playing style, Brown is a solid, versatile right wing who can make strong passes and score goals. He takes very good care of the puck, can win battles and uses his speed and hockey IQ to his advantage while playing a full 200-foot game. Brown is also a leader and can play with pretty much anyone, giving head coach Peter Laviolette a lot of options.
“He’s a very big competitor. He likes to win… I think he’s a great leader,” Dylan Strome said of his former Erie Otters captain, adding, “I’m looking forward to being back on his team. I was talking to him a little bit this past week. It’s been a long time since we’ve been on the same team, but we’re excited.”
When it comes to what he brings to the District, the 6-0, 181-pound forward puts an emphasis on his penalty killing and defensive play. However, he hopes to bring that and much more to the table to help Washington have a successful 2022-23 campaign.
“I always thought I was a skilled forward and I see myself as that. But I remember my junior coach telling me really to hone in on being a good penalty-killer and making that something I take pride in, and ever since then, I really have,” Brown said. “I try to have a knack for stealing pucks, I just really enjoy penalty-killing… defensively as a forward, I steal pucks and play tenacious. I like to consider myself as doing a little bit of everything. So I think I can help out the second unit and everything I can do, every little thing, I will try to bring it all. It’s tough to just pinpoint one there.”
CAPITALS FEATURES: Lapierre, Iorio & Hanelt Talk Brotherhood, Tight Bond
Looking at the lineup, Brown is familiar with quite a few names beyond Strome. Darcy Kuemper was his goaltender on Team Canada, and he grew up facing off against Tom Wilson in Toronto. Ultimately, Brown thinks the Capitals have all the right pieces on board, especially after a busy start to NHL Free Agency.
“I think we look good. They’ve always been good, and I really like the additions we made,” Brown said. “They are always kind of a couple good additions from being one of the best teams in the league, if not the best. They proved that not so long ago, and a lot of the core pieces are still in place… I’m excited to be a part of it and I’m excited to see what I can bring and what I can [do to] help a team that is looking to get over the edge.”
When it comes to his role in D.C., Brown is ready to do whatever the team asks of him. Still, he knows that there’s a vacancy on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov as Wilson recovers from a torn ACL, and he’s open to that opportunity.
“I think it would be easy. They’re two of the biggest talents in the league for a long time,” Brown said when asked about potentially playing alongside No. 8 and No. 92. “It would be amazing to play with those guys. Lucky enough, this team’s got lots of good players up and down the lineup. So I don’t think there’s really a bad spot where you can fall. I’m sure I’ll have some time up there, and I’m sure I’ll have some time throughout the lineup… obviously, world-class players and fun to watch and they’ll be a lot of fun to play with.”
READ MORE ON WHN: Vanecek Opens Up About Trade, Was ‘Surprised’ By Capitals Complete Goalie Overhaul
Brown has one year remaining on his current contract before he becomes a UFA. He hasn’t touched had any kinds of talks yet regarding an extension with the Capitals. His mind isn’t exactly there right now, anyway, but he does have a clear goal set for the 2022-23 campaign in D.C.
“I’m looking at this year like an opportunity to win,” he declared. “I’m looking to get back into the playoffs. I want to play some meaningful hockey more than anything. I’m trying not to focus too internally about what my future holds and just try to do whatever I can to help this team win.”