Last summer Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown signed an eight-year extension that will all but ensure that the two-time Stanley Cup champ ends his career in the only jersey he’s ever worn. Despite the Kings winning their second Stanley Cup in three seasons, Brown did not live up to his hefty new deal and had the worst year since he was a rookie in 2003. If the Kings wish to defend their title and establish a dynasty in L.A., Brown will need to return to form offensively and live up to his near $6 million cap hit.
For starters, Brown was coming off a knee injury that he played through in the 2013 playoffs and never looked quite right last season. Also, no one would discredit what Brown means to the team with his leadership and physicality as he lays it all on the line every night. Even if sometimes his hits reach “borderline” dirty, he very rarely takes penalties and puts the team at a manpower disadvantage. Having said that, he’s not being paid $6 million per year to be a grinder and needs to contribute his fair share offensively for the Kings to successfully defend their title.
Brown’s career high in points is 60, and that is not an unreasonable goal to shoot for this season. Even a season in the 45-55 point range with Brown’s usual physicality and lead-by-example attitude on display at all times justifies his high salary. Very few players are as clutch in the playoffs, and a return to form in the regular season would surely give Brown a confidence boost going into next year’s playoffs.
As late Oakland Raiders (and ironically for a time L.A. Raiders) owner Al Davis once said, “Just win, Baby”. And if the Kings do that it won’t matter what Brown’s point total is. That being said, a return to offensive proficiency for Brown would make winning and defending the Stanley Cup a much more realistic goal for the Kings next season and beyond.