A late Saturday afternoon/evening signing saw the Toronto Maple Leafs bring forward Connor Brown back into the fold with a 3-year, $6.3 million deal.
Brown exploded onto the scene with the other rookies in the Toronto lineup last season and together, they formed a very dynamic squad that found their way into the playoffs and restored the faith of the Maple Leafs fan base.
In 82 games played last season, the 23-year old had a 20-goal season, finishing with 36 points, well inside the pool worthiness conversation at 156th among all forwards in scoring.
He, along with his other younger teammates, will be under the microscope, carrying much larger expectations for the 2018 season and for the most part, this group is certainly well-equipped to do just that. Adding some more veteran help for a mentorship role, should help guide these kids through the rough patches.
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Brown is now preparing for his second full season with the big club in Toronto and it's that sophomore season, which I will harp on and on about, that figures largely for some of these Toronto players this year. I figure it will be somewhat of a down season for Brown, but it won't be awful, while the Hockey News believes that it will be back to the 36-point range for the forward, keeping him well within range for a selection in this year's draft. This year for the Leafs will hinge greatly on the shoulders of these kids and the rabid market that is Toronto could also hinder some of that development.
Cap-wise, the Leafs have really been working the abacus' and calculators hard to make sure they all fit within the league guidelines. The Nathan Horton/Joffrey Lupul injuries are the biggest reason for the extra work. If my math serves me properly, I have a Leafs roster with 25 players, including the two injured players, using only Lupul's help on the LTIR, leaving the team with just over $450,000 in available cap space. The Leafs could still open Horton's $5.3 million, if needed, but that would really handcuff this team moving forward. I suspect that the Leafs are done for the summer and they'll head to camp as is.