Brown carving path to draft

Andrew Schopp2016 Draft Center

He considers Ottawa home, but there’s a hint of southern flavor in Logan Brown’s game.

The son of retired NHL journeyman Jeff Brown, the Windsor Spitfires forward tailed his father across the hockey landscape as he played 747 games for seven NHL teams, including one season with the Carolina Hurricanes in 1998, when Logan was born in the club’s home base of Raleigh, NC.

Brown’s journey as the son of an NHL player continued across the Southern and Midwest United States, and his as a hockey player amplified in his bantam season in St. Louis.

“We had an unbelievable group of guys,” Brown recalled of his time with the St. Louis AAA Bantam Blues. “My father retired in 1999 and came back to coach in St. Louis for a little while so I grew up there. I always spent my summers and Christmas in Ottawa so I consider myself a Canadian boy, obviously.”

It created a unique situation.

Brown was selected in the 24th round (No. 346) in the United States Hockey League Entry Draft in 2013. A year later, the 6-foot-6, 218-pound center was plucked in the first round, sixth overall, in the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection by the Niagara IceDogs.

With a choice to play in the OHL or the top junior league in the United States, Brown headed north.

He hasn’t looked back.

“The OHL fits my style of game and my personality,” said Brown, who was traded from the IceDogs to Spitfires in August 2014. “It wasn’t that tough of a choice. My whole life growing up I was always a Canadian boy at heart and I knew if I had the chance I would play in the OHL and hopefully one day for Canada at the World Juniors.”

He’s on his way.

Scouts describe Brown as a big power forward who possesses a dangerous shot. He is not afraid to use his hulking frame to muscle his way to the net or work the boards.

“He’s s big, strong center who moves fluidly on his feet,” Future Considerations scout Daniel Deschenes said. “He has a pro like release and a strong read of the offensive game. He plays the game well in tight and has no problem stick handling in tight quarters.

“He’s a first round quality player in my mind.”

Brown sits 13th overall in Future Considerations’ November ranking for the 2016 NHL Draft.

His first dig into Canadian hockey was rough, he said.

But he blossomed under the tutelage of former Spitfires coach Bob Boughner, an established NHL tough guy who as a bench boss led Windsor to back-to-back Memorial Cup victories in 2009 and 2010.

“My first time playing full-time in Canada was last year,” said Brown of his first OHL season, in which he scored 17 goals and 26 assists in 56 games on a losing Spitfires team. “I came into the season pretty lanky and not a great skater and [Boughner] really developed my skating as well as my defensive-zone play.”

Now in his NHL draft year, Brown is bigger, stronger and more offensively potent.

After finishing last in the OHL’s Western Conference in 2014-2015, the Spitfires have turned things around this season. They are off to a blistering 15-4-3 start to the new campaign under new coach Rocky Thompson.

Centering Windsor’s top line, Brown is flanked by wingers Cole Carter and Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Cristiano DiGiacinto and has contributed an impressive 11 goals and 14 assists in 22 games.

Brown doesn’t put too much stock into 2016 being his first year of NHL draft eligibility. He’s just looking to continue to develop rapidly while being a major factor in the Spitfires turnaround.

“Last year was rough season for my team,” Brown said. “I want to put up more points and I think that will translate to more wins for the team.”