Senators’ fans let out a sigh of relief when news broke Thursday morning, Connor Brown signed a three-year contract, thus avoiding a scheduled appointment with an arbitrator.
Brown and the club agreed to a palpable deal which pays a $3.6 million annual average value. The contract breakdown over the three seasons is as follows; $2M, $4M, $4M. The Toronto resident originally requested $4.8M through arbitration, while the Senators offered $2.25M.
Brown’s relief was evident during his media availability via Zoom Thursday afternoon.
“I believe in what we’re doing in Ottawa. I think there’s nice pieces. I’m a good fit there. I felt like it was a good spot for me on both sides. I’m glad we got something sorted out,” said Brown. “I think with given all the circumstances – the uncertainty of the world right now – I think that obviously played a part. I feel relieved and excited that it’s all settled. Now I can think about training and getting all settled for next year.”
Senators General Manager Pierre Dorion echoed that sentiment in a team release.
“We’re very happy to have Connor back under contract. He brings a veteran presence to our lineup and is a player who can play in different situations. He’s durable, has a strong work ethic with great practice habits and is regarded as a leader by his teammates. His ability to play up and down the lineup while producing offensively is especially valuable to us as we continue our transition towards being a consistent winner.”
Acquired from the Maple Leafs in a multi-player swap July 1, 2019, Brown posted an NHL career-best 27 assists and 43 points while leading all team forwards in time-on-ice (20:07). He most assuredly would’ve recorded 20 goals and 50 points had the season been played in its entirety. Brown was one of four Senators to skate in all 71 games and currently possesses a 324-game ironman streak – having never missed a game in his four-plus NHL campaigns.
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) October 22, 2020
At 26, (turning 27), January 14, Brown is currently the Senators third eldest forward, five years younger than a pair of 31-year olds in Artem Anisimov and recently-signed unrestricted free agent Evgenii Dadonov.
He’ll be a part of the group that’ll be relied upon to mentor and offer leadership to the club’s young guns.
“It’s a new role for me in the NHL. It goes by pretty quick. I feel like I just stepped into the league. It’s a role I think I’m going to have to embrace, Brown explained on the call. “I’ve played with a lot of guys have been on partisan teams that had good culture. I understand the impact of culture and how it translate into wins. I’ll do my best to try to provide leadership to guys that are coming into the league.”
“They’re close buddies of mine. Last year they took steps forward. They’re young guys, but they’re leaders on the team. They’re both really good people. They’re both team-first guys. I think the team is in good hands as far as character in the room.”
An interesting point raised during the call, was that the right wing may require another contract by the time the Senators are set to make a long playoff run.
“The timeline is hard to predict right now. A lot of the young kids like (Drake) Batherson, (Josh) Norris and these guys are just getting going. Whether they step in right away, and become impactful players right away, or they need some time, it’s going to depend on how our team does. It’s hard to predict. I believe we’ve got good people. I believe in the coaching staff. I think we’ve got good guys in that room. We’ll be doing things the right way. Hopefully it turns around quicker, obviously as quick as possible.”
Brown also approved of his GM’s off-season additions. The top-six forward told Full Press NHL.
“Obviously, I’ve been following closely. I want to be a part of a team that I think can be in the mix, and is trying to build something. We took a lot of good steps forward this off-season. Obviously (Evgenii) Dadonov I’ve always admired him as a player in Florida, and (Austin) Watson and (Josh) “Brownie” and (Matt) Murray are guys that we’ve acquired here. I think we’ve done a really good job of solidifying things we needed to shore up. We brought in guys that play the way we want to play. I think we will be a tough team to play against. It’s going to be about scoring enough goals. So hopefully, we can take steps forward on our power play, and things like that. I think between the guys we brought in and the guys brought will have a hand in it.”
There’s a distinct possibility next season’s roster may contain three players with identical surnames.
Nicknamed “Brownie,” Connor admitted he and Josh Brown will be turning their heads every time someone calls “Brownie.” Good thing Logan Brown is referred to as “Logie.”
Connor added, he and Josh have exchanged calls and texts since the defenseman was dealt to Ottawa from the Panthers October 2. The blue-liner was a teammate of Connor’s brother, Jeff while playing with the Ontario League’s Oshawa Generals.
Training under the guise of Canucks director of applied sports science Bryan Marshall, Brown currently skates two-three days per week with a “bunch of NHL guys in the area,” and spends up to five days in the gym.
“To begin, I found it tough during the summer. In July when everyone was ramping up to go back to the playoffs, we had no end in sight. Now I feel like it’s almost the beginning of the off-season, so a little more motivation – guys are back in the gym that were in the playoffs. It’s also for us, we enjoy it. We like being in the gym every day. It’s social hour. We go in there and push each other. It hasn’t been too hard. There were definitely a few dog days over the summer when there was no end in sight though.”
There’s little doubt Brown will be ready once training camp opens, unfortunately, whatever date that is.