Connor Brown may seem like just one of a number of additions the Ottawa Senators have made this off-season, but it turns out that the team had their eye on the veteran forward for some time and have high expectations for him this year. Speaking with Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, Senators GM Pierre Dorion states that his interest in Brown began long before the team hired former Toronto Maple Leafs assistant D.J. Smith as their new head coach and belongs in a separate category from familiar additions Nikita Zaitsev, Ron Hainsey, and Tyler Ennis. While that group of veterans was brought in from Toronto to provide leadership and stability in a young locker room under a first-time NHL head coach, Dorion sees a larger role for Brown. “We just feel he was someone on a very skilled team that probably didn’t get the offensive looks he would have gotten on a lot of other teams,” Dorion states, suggesting “We feel he’s going to get back to being the 20-goal scorer he was in his rookie year.” Brown did hit 20 goals, as well as 36 points, in a breakout rookie campaign three years ago, but his goal scoring totals have dropped precipitously since then: 14 goals in 2017-18 and 8 goals in 2018-19. Brown will certainly have the opportunity to improve his numbers on an Ottawa roster that lack many established scorers, but Dorion’s projection of 20+ goals may be lofty for a player who has looked comfortable as a 30-point, two-way forward over the last few years.
- Akil Thomas is on the Los Angeles Kings’ roster for their upcoming rookie tournament and is poised to compete for an NHL roster spot in training camp. However, even though their intention was to honor the young forward, his junior team made it clear that they don’t expect him to break camp with the Kings this year. The OHL’s Niagara Ice Dogs have named Thomas their captain for the 2019-20 season, the team already announced, although Thomas is still weeks away from pushing for a place with the Kings. Thomas more than earned the role with his play last year, recording 102 points in 63 games for a powerhouse team that has since lost the likes of Jason Robertson, Jack Studnicka, and Ben Jones to the pros. Nevertheless, even those dominant numbers don’t guarantee the 2018 second-round pick a role with L.A. this season. The Kings sport an impressive group of prospects competing for few openings. Recent high picks Rasmus Kupari and Jaret Anderson-Dolan probably have an edge on Thomas if the Kings opt to add a rookie forward to the starting lineup, likely leading Niagara to safely assume that their star forward will be back this season.
- After two years on the job, Scott Gomez has decided to leave the New York Islanders coaching staff, Newsday’s Andrew Gross reports. The team has confirmed the move and stressed that Gomez was not fired. Gomez was originally hired by Doug Weight, but served under Barry Trotz last season as well. Gomez is remembered most for his dynamic offensive play early in his pro career with the New Jersey Devils. It could be that his philosophy on offense didn’t mesh with Trotz’ ultra-conservative scheme, prompting him to seek a better fit elsewhere, but there has been no word as to the reasoning behind Gomez’ departure. If Gomez wants to continue coaching, there is undoubtedly a place for him in the pro or junior ranks.