It’s not the earth-shattering lineup shaker that some may have been expecting, but could potentially be a smart depth move by the Oilers.
Brown became a victim of the numbers game in Toronto, who have Colten Orr, Frazer McLaren, and forwards with the Marlies performing well that they are looking to give some ice time to.
The Oilers have been looking to become tougher and harder to play against, and Brown certainly fits the bill there. He’s not going to help the offence, with only 14 goals in over 250 NHL games, but he’s also not going to be expected to.
The curious thing is where he fits into the lineup. He’s obviously not going to play in the top six, but even in the bottom six there is a glut of wingers already there. He will be battling for a spot with wingers Magnus Paajarvi, Ryan Smyth, Ryan Jones, Lennart Petrell, and Ben Eager. By my count, that’s five players for four spots already, not to mention Teemu Hartikainen when he returns from injury.
Smyth and Jones are likely safe, at least for the time being. Paajarvi has been playing much better of late and had a goal and played 18:34 in the Oilers last game, so he would be doubtful to come out.
That leaves Petrell and Eager. Petrell has virtually no impact on the team’s offence, but he’s one of the team’s best penalty killers and plays a sound defensive game. Eager plays a similar role to Brown and offers many of the same skills, which makes it curious to just swap one for the other and waste a draft pick.
Paajarvi could possibly be sent down because he has only eight NHL games left before he would have to clear waivers. However, if he is playing well, it would stand to reason the Oilers would want to keep him in.
It will be interesting to see who stays in and who comes out. The Oilers acquired Brown to be in the lineup and not sit and watch, so it will have to be someone. Unless they go with a revolving door as they have been with their defensemen this year and it’s a different name depending on the night.
Brown is someone that will be an instant fan-favourite. He brings a ton of energy, loves to drop the gloves and get in opponents faces. He’s also a good skater and has decent enough hands that he won’t be over-matched by the pace of play, as Darcy Hordichuk was earlier this year.
The question isn’t whether Brown can effectively fill his role – he is an ideal fourth line forward and can bring value in limited minutes. It’s whether the Oilers needed to make the move at all, and what kind of role he will play on this team. If it’s simply to add toughness and grit, then mission accomplished. However, based on who could come out of the lineup, Brown will not necessarily bring any more value than the man he’s replacing.
Especially seeing as if the Oilers make the playoffs, the pick going to Toronto becomes a third round selection, which is a high price, based on the minutes Brown will likely see.
Time will tell, and many things could change as the season goes on. If nothing else, Brown is an effective depth player and a great dressing room guy, something no team can have enough of.