For most of the Leafs CHL prospects, this was a pretty lacklustre week.
Tyler Biggs picked up a pair of assists in Friday’s game but was held pointless in a pair of losses on Saturday and Sunday. Â David Broll had a 3-point weekend with 2 goals and 1 assist. Â Rielly plays an afternoon game tomorrow and after 1 assist in his last 3 games, he’ll have to put up some crooked numbers for his weekly production to be in any way noteworthy — though his play was, as always, solid.
While the group-wide production was uninspiring, there’s still plenty to talk about. Â First of all, after being benched following what I’ve been told was a sub-par effort, both Joe Colborne and Nazem Kadri bounced back in a big way on Saturday night, putting up 5-points between them and from what I’ve heard, looking very good while doing it. Â The highlights were nice, especially the nifty tic-tac-toe number that Colborne, Gardiner, and Kadri put together at the 1:19 mark of that video. Â With my CHL commitments, I’ve only seen about half of the Marlies games so far this year but Kadri and Colborne have looked good when I’ve tuned in — I’m just lucky, I guess.
The story of the week as far as Leafs prospects goes was without a doubt Connor Brown. Â I confessed last week to having not paid too much attention to him in the early stages of this season but I saw him this week and he looked good. Â In 2 games, Brown put up 2 goals and 5 assist and all of his assists were of the primary variety.
The question that I’ve been asked most often this season is whether Brown is actually this good or whether he’s a product of another Connor; namely, Connor McDavid. Â First of all, it’s impossible to take team or line effects out of Junior Hockey. Â Who’s responsible for whose production? Â It’s possibly the most maddening question to try and sort out. Â Does it help Brown that he’s skating with the OHL’s super rookie? Of course. Â But as good as McDavid will undoubtedly be, he’s still only the 15th leading scorer in the OHL as of tonight and that puts him 3 slots behind Brown, for now.
What I’ve seen from Brown in a small 3 game sampling is some good vision and creativity as well as a strong understanding of when it’s appropriate to shoot and when it’s better to pass. Â His skating doesn’t really standout and he’s a bit undersized but he has a knack for finding and hitting the holes in the offensive zone coverage.
At the end of the day, despite his early production, I see Brown as a bit of a longshot. Â He plays smart and he’s capable of making some high-skill plays but at his size and without exceptional speed, it’s going to be tough sledding for him to make The Show. Â While he was full-marks for his points over the weekend (I’ll tweet the highlight pack or plays of the week once it comes out — one of his assists against Oshawa was magnificent), 11 of his 16 goals have come on the powerplay and things like that tend to even themselves out over the course of a season.
For now, I’m happy to see that he’s producing in his draft+1 year but my expectations are still tempered by his size and draft slot. Â Not a lot of 6th rounders make it but for the time being, I’m just enjoying the ride.
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