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2016 NHL Draft prospect profile: Logan Brown is a very big playmaking centre

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The 6'6" centre from the Windsor Spitfires is expected to go in the upper half of the first round this year.

Dennis Pajot/Getty Images

The Windsor Spitfires have produced several intriguing prospects for this year's draft,  and one such player is their towering centreman, Logan Brown. He is one of the biggest players expected to go in the first round, and is the biggest forward by a rather healthy margin.

He showed tremendous improvement during his two seasons with the Spitfires, particularly as this past season progressed. He jumped from 43 points in his rookie year to 74 in 2015-16, playing in only three more games. The progression in his development, combined with his intriguing size profile, really put him on the map for NHL scouts.

Birthplace: Raleigh, North Carolina

Shoots: Left

Position: Centre

Height: 6'6" Weight: 220lbs

He was cut from Team Canada for the Ivan Hlinka tournament early in the year, but dual citizenship allowed him to eventually take a shot at team USA. He kept working, and earned a spot on their U18 World Championship team, where he wowed the scouts in attendance with 12 points in just seven games.

Brown isn't the power forward you might expect him to be based on his measurements, as he prefers the role of playmaker. He has good hockey sense and vision, and excels at recognizing what his teammates are doing in order to get them the puck in a cycle or for a scoring chance.

He put up 53 assists last year, 30 of which were primary. He really earns his points, not getting a lot of gifts in the assist column. One criticism that arises from this is that he could stand to use his shot more, as it is pretty good, but he rarely lets it go.

He is a very good skater for someone his size as well. He has a smooth stride, and is much faster than you might expect. You don't often see him get to top gear, but when he does, it is impressive. He also has quick lateral movement that allows him to confuse defenders and get around them.

Soft hands are another trait he has that is easy to like. He has very good stickhandling, and his long reach makes it very tough to disrupt. He also uses that reach in tandem with his frame to protect the puck, so once he has it, it is rather tough to take it away.

It sounds crazy, but for all his size, he is actually not a very physical player. He does use his frame and reach in protecting the puck, but most scouting reports denote a need for him to use his body more, particularly in the defensive end when he doesn't have the puck.

And that defensive game of his could really use some work. He projects as a top-six centre in the NHL, but if he wants to become that, he will have to show a little bit more in terms of defensive responsibility. He has the physical tools, he just needs to work on putting them to use.

Scouting

Hockey Prospect

This year has been the tale of two seasons for Logan Brown. It started with Logan being cut from Team Canada's U18 Ivan Hlinka team due to a lackluster performance. His season ended with him joining Team USA's U18 team at the IIHF World Under 18 Championships, where he impressed scouts with a fantastic performance. Logan has very good offensive tools for such a big forward. He has an excellent shot that quickly snaps into the back of the net.

Brown has shown good passing ability through traffic to set up scoring chances. His offensive strengths are pretty well rounded when he's set up in the offensive zone. Both passing and shooting skills are strong. He will need to improve ‘off the rush’ as he hasn't had great results when trying to beat defenders one on one in our viewings. His skating has shown steady improvements over the course of this season and like any player, he will need to continue to progress in this area.

Logan protects the puck well down low and can get himself out of tight situations by protecting and cutting towards the net. He will need to get better and be a bit tougher in battles. Adding muscle to his huge frame will be important. He also needs to improve on his defensive urgency, as he isn't as strong on his own side of the red line as some of the other centres near the top of this draft. Going back to his OHL Draft year, we felt Brown had shown an inconsistent compete level. This season was a different, as he seemed to flick a switch mid season. If this current version of Logan Brown is an indication of things to come, Logan could be one of the best players to come out of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft as a talented top six forward.

Future Considerations

Brown has all the tools to be an impact playmaker at the next level. Despite his towering size, he doesn’t play a powerful, speed-driven, in-your-face game, but he does use his frame to protect the puck and plays a solid all-around game. He has loads of speed tucked away in those long strides, but you almost rarely see him hit 100%. Brown is a smooth skater with a strong center of gravity, making it extremely difficult for opponents to move him off the puck or knock him around. Even with the puck and stretched out, he still maintains power and stability as he stays balanced and upright through contact. Brown is a very fluid skater with quick lateral movements that belies a kid with his size. He displays impressive hockey sense and overall awareness with and without the puck. When holding the puck down low in the offensive zone, Brown has solid recognition of what his teammates are doing and is quick to cycle with the man coming in behind him, knowing exactly when the man is approaching and timing the drop pass right. He possesses soft hands and is skilled with the puck. Brown makes it very hard to take the puck off him, especially on the wall when he uses his back to push checks off. Away from the puck, he is a workhorse as he attempts to get the puck from the man, not easing off until he forces his opponent to turn it over or Brown strips him of it. He has a quick wrist shot, and is quite deceptive as he doesn’t always get into a shooting position so goalies don’t expect a shot coming off the blade. He has a nose for the net and will make his presence known in front of the crease, while standing his ground and not allowing his opponent to move him. Brown’s passes are hard, crisp and lead the man through lanes. He has the ability to see lanes develop and make the pass. He adjusts his body perfectly to receive the pass on a give-andgo, quickly feeding his man right back. In the faceoff circle, Brown uses his strength to his advantage to tie up his man and prevent him from taking control. Defensively, Brown picks up his check and plays a good game down low, pushing his check to the outside and plastering him into the wall if necessary to separate the man from the puck.

ISS

Brown’s development curve throughout this season has been tremendous. Was matched up against 20 yr old Ryan MacInnis in Kitchener series, tough assignment for any 17 yr old yet he did well. Took that experience and joined Team USA at U18 and played outstanding. Provided clutch scoring and leadership throughout tournament. More of a playmaker than a shooter but started filling the back of the net once he shot on a regular basis. He showed good quick hands in all three zones as well as on draws where he’s strong. Projects as 2nd line center with upside. Like this player - has all the tools, just needs time to put it all together.

Rankings

ISS: 7th

Future Considerations: 7th

Hockey Prospect: 7th

DraftBuzz Hockey: 12th

NHL Central Scouting: 7th (North American skaters)

ESPN: 12th

Draft Analyst: 16th

Thoughts

At ninth overall, this is not the player I'd like to see the Canadiens take. He is at least a year or two away from being NHL-ready, and even then there are no guarantees. His size profile is great - he definitely has the ideal measurements of an NHL centre - but there is more to success in the NHL than size.

My assessment is that his high ranking has a lot to do with his size. It has been noted that he's not as good defensively as other centres, not as physical as he should be, and has a number of other things to work on before he can turn pro. Essentially, to pick him in the first round is to bank that his size is worth waiting for his skills to develop more. It's a bit of a gamble.

I don't mean to write him off at all, I just would not spend a top-10 pick to get him. If you gave me say the 15th overall selection, I would happily use that on him. Realistically, there is a quite good chance that he's gone before ninth anyways, if a team ahead of the Habs feels that their biggest need is to get a big body centreman.

I do think Logan Brown will have an NHL career, I just don't see how the Canadiens benefit from taking him with a top-10 pick this year.