Toronto Maple Leafs: Is it possible to give Connor Brown a bigger role?

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Tommy Wingels
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Tommy Wingels /

After an impressive game against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Toronto Maple Leafs are in a position where Connor Brown has earned a more prominent role, but is that going to be possible?

He may not be the flashiest or most skilled player on the Toronto Maple Leafs, but Connor Brown continues to show that no matter where he plays because he will find a way to contribute.

The best way to describe the 23-year-old’s ability is like a Swiss army knife because he has so many tools and can be used in many situations. He has shown great value as a penalty killer, has played on a shutdown line against top players and is a capable offensive player.

The game against Chicago was a prime example of the value Brown provides the Leafs even as a fourth liner, but everyone knows he deserves a bigger role. Mike Babcock has shown that he is willing to move players up and down the lineup if a shakeup is needed but looking at the depth chart, but is there a spot where Brown can be moved up?

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There is no way Babcock will change Auston Matthews‘ line especially with the way they have been playing to start the season. Really, it comes down to Nazem Kadri‘s line and Tyler Bozak‘s line. There is no way that Brown will take Patrick Marleau or James van Riemsdyk‘s spot on the second and third line and the same can be said for Mitch Marner.

The only place where a switch would be possible is in Leo Komarov‘s spot and again, that would be a tough call to make. Komarov is a big part of that shutdown line  because of his defensive play, and while Brown is no slouch in his own end would Babcock be willing to bump Komarov down to the fourth line to give Brown a bigger role?

Considering the amount of opportunity Brown gets to play on the penalty kill, the power play and the occasional move up and down the lineup, it has not come to the point where the Leafs are struggling to get Brown ice time.

He is averaging 15:43 a game which is way more than what most fourth line players average.

Through three games this season Brown has averaged 8:50 at even strength behind Komarov who plays 9:38 and both players average well over four minutes on the penalty kill. Now while Komarov gets more time at even strength, Brown plays more on the power play and when you add it all up, he actually averages more minutes a night than Komarov.

So for people demanding that Brown should get a chance a more prominent role in the lineup, the only way that becomes possible is either through a trade or injury which frees up a spot in the lineup or play somebody else on the fourth line.

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As it stands right now, Babcock knows that Brown is not a fourth line player but given the amount of depth the Leafs have, that is how things line up. If anything, Brown puts the fourth line in a position where it can get more ice time because of his defensive play and ability to create offence which speaks volumes to the type of player that Brown has developed into and the role he plays on the team.