January 18, 2015
TORONTO– Transitioning from junior to the pro game, there was early concern about how prospect Connor Brown would fare. Halfway through his first AHL season, however, those worries have been tossed to the side.
The 21-year-old winger has led the Marlies offensively for majority of the season and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. He found the back of the net in each of his last two outings and now has a team-leading 11 goals to go along with a team-high 31 points in 39 games.
“He’s been basically our offensive catalist most of the year and for a guy coming in as a rookie, there were question marks about him,” said Marlies head coach Gord Dineen. “Obviously he had a great resume with what he’d done in junior, (but) he’s just carried that over into pro hockey.”
Brown’s play hasn’t gone unnoticed by the American Hockey League either.
The Toronto native was selected as the AHL rookie of the month in December after posting 12 points in 14 contests and was recently selected to represent the Marlies at the AHL All-Star Classic- the only Toronto player who will be in attendance.
“I wasn’t anticipating it but anytime you’re recognized it’s pretty special,” said Brown, who the Maple Leafs selected 156th overall in 2012.
While the Marlies struggled early in the year to produce any offence- they averaged less than two goals per game for the first 19 games of the season- Brown was the lone bright spot up front as the only player to bring any consistency when they club hit the ice.
With a summer spent conditioning in Toronto under the guidance of team trainers and skating coach Barb Underhill, Brown was never concerned about shifting to pro after three seasons with the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters.
“It’s about what I expected, bigger guys, less room. There was an adjustment period but I feel I’m doing well now.”
According to Dineen, what’s been most impressive isn’t what he’s been doing in the offensive end of the ice but how he’s been able to improve other aspects of his game in the other two zones.
“He’s been defensively responsible, plays a complete game and is a guy that’s so easy to coach,” said Dineen. “If anything you have to reign him back. That’s a credit to him for his desire to be a better hockey player.”
Brown, five-foot-11 170 pounds, is currently second in AHL rookie scoring and tied for 17th overall in league scoring. He’s also the only Toronto skater to dress in all 39 games this season.