Edmonton Oilers trade for Mike Brown


Photo: Michael Miller/Wikimedia

On Monday morning, the Edmonton Oilers’ official Twitter feed announced that the club had acquired forward Mike Brown from Toronto in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick in 2014.

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Brown has played in 12 games with the Maple Leafs this year, picking up a single assist, but his ice-time and importance to the team had diminished sharply with the ascension of fellow tough guys Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren. After averaging more than 9:00 per game in 2011-12, he was down to 4:39 this season, and often spent time in the pressbox. So why are the Oilers interested in a player the Maple Leafs have identified as a spare part?


Brown is likely best known for his physical play – both fighting and hitting. He’s had 15 fights since the start of 2011-12 season and hits everything that moves. His size isn’t ideal to the role – Brown is listed at 5’11", 212 pounds – but he’s very willing and judging by his fight card has had some success against bigger players in the past.

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But can he do more than fight?

Can He Play?

The answer to this question is a qualified yes.

The big caveat is that Brown will not score; he’s averaged roughly one point for every 10 games over his major-league career, and his career high in NHL points is eight. His career high in the AHL is 15 points, a total he achieved over 78 contests as a rookie professional.

On the other hand, Brown isn’t a total liability as a defensive forward. His diminished role this year means he hasn’t seen much time on the penalty kill, but NHL coaches in his recent past have used him there – he saw some time in 2011-12, and averaged a career-high 1:35 while shorthanded in 2010-11. It’s probably worth noting that the penalty kills he has spent a lot of time on have typically been pretty bad; in significant minutes in 2009-10 with Anaheim and 2010-11 in Toronto, neither club managed to crack the 80% mark in terms of success killing off power plays. 

Brown also saw some success in 2011-12 on a checking line, playing mostly with Dave Steckel – despite a fairly heavy ratio of defensive zone starts, the line came close to holding its own in terms of shots for and against with Brown on the ice. Unfortunately, that’s as good as it gets for Brown – in previous years, his line has been lit up despite offensive zone shifts in Anaheim and in defensive zone work in Toronto.

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Is it a good move?

There are positives. Brown is likely more capable of playing a regular shift on the fourth line than his predecessor, Darcy Hordichuk, and he will add an edge to whichever line he finds himself on. A fourth-round draft pick is a pretty small price to pay, particularly since it isn’t until 2014.

With a logjam of wingers already in the system, this will force the Oilers to move another player off the roster. Maybe that player is Lennart Petrell – a bigger forward who is better defensively and roughly equivalent offensively, but who doesn’t fight. Maybe that forward is Magnus Paajarvi or Teemu Hartikainen, in which case the Oilers are sacrificing ability in order to bring in a fighter. Certainly one hopes that head coach Ralph Krueger was on-board with the move, given that his unwillingness to play a part-time guy in Hordichuk ultimately resulted in the veteran getting consigned to the minors.

Ultimately, how Brown responds to the chance to play will determine whether this was a solid move for the Oilers or not. He will upgrade the team’s toughness on its bottom lines, but in terms of out-playing the opposition this looks like at best a ‘treading water’ move. 

Update: Bob McKenzie reports that the draft pick is conditional – if the Oilers make the playoffs this season, it becomes a third-round pick in 2014.

Leafs Nation also has a post up on this trade.

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Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • I was talking to a buddy of mine who is a big leafs fan and he was telling me how he wished that they would give Brown some more minutes because of the energy that he brings to the table. We could certainly use some guys who bring it every shift. I don’t think it’s too much of a risk but we could have had Sestito for nothing less than a week ago and that would have been my preferred move but that’s just me.

  • bazmagoo

    Solid pickup for the Oilers, really like the way Tambellini is managing the team. Always trying to pick up team guys who give it their all every night and are good team mates. We need more of that in our lineup. This can also free up Eager a little bit so he doesn’t have to worry about answering the bell (not that he has been).

    I see a consistent trend of bringing in players with a positive attitude, and that boads well for the future.

    PS – Anyone who is still holding onto hope that we “should” be making the playoffs this year obviously hasn’t watched enough hockey. Teams make the playoffs based on merit and consistency, both of which the young Oilers are sadly lacking. I’d be very happy if they finished 10th in the west, and the way they’ve played up until now that’s a pretty big if.

  • Mfdcap10

    A huge turning point for this organization is when the Oilers acquired Kevin McClelland and Marty McSorley. I wonder how many folks were loathing trading the soft albeit talented Tom Rolston for McClelland? How many goals is McClelland going to score?

  • paul wodehouse

    ”…”Dave (Nonis) and I spoke awhile ago,” explained Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini, “but it was only in the last few days that everything came together. I didn’t want to hesitate…”

    credit…sportsnet dot ca

    …y’can’t call him dithers anymore …here’s proof that he didn’t wanna hesitate…

    beware the Ides of March stevo


  • paul wodehouse

    …McClelland was acquired waaay before the instigator rule too Mfdcap10…dunderheads(they were a good thing then) like he and others were all the rage back in the day and every contender had to have their ‘skills’ to get sh!t done…it was in fact Kevins’ goal on the Island to beat the dreaded Islanders one nil in a playoff match that actually turned this franchise into the dynsty it became imo…yup a goal from secondary goonage… Mac, Marty and Sammy were all the ones who complimented the Linsmans Lowes Buchbergers and Donny Jacksons of our squad…a different era to be sure but if Mike Brown can upgrade the Hordichuk then so be it…
    but further… nobody should ‘applaud’ our GM for making this trade…it’s one of the last ditch efforts of a lame duck walking dead GM.

    • Mfdcap10

      Linesman feisty….. Lowe a good mix of positional play and toughness….. Bucky tough….. Don Jackson tough as nails.

      What this team needs is two lines that put the fear into other teams, a physical line that can check, bang, and chip in, and a fourth line to bang and put fear into other teams. It’s all about balance.

      The oilers dearly need a line that hits everything that moves. Now the oilers need another banger to go with Eager and Brownie. Maybe Chris Nilan, Steve Ott, hell even Rafi if we could rehabilitate him.

      When the games get to the point you’re fighting for every inch of ice, you need to fight for it or else get chewed up and spit out. Work ethic breeds work ethic. Otherwise it’s just the blind leading the blind. If the softies have no one to come to their aid, they’ll just disappear until the next game when the going might not be so tough.

  • CaptainLander

    2008 – Johan Motin
    2007 – Linus Omark
    2005 – Vande Velde
    2005 – Vyacheslav Trukhno
    2004 – Liam Reddox
    2002 – Ivan Koltsov
    2002 – Jonas Almtrop
    2002 – Robin Kovar

    Oiler Draft history on 4th round picks, I would be okay trading any one of these guys for Mike Brown, save maybe Vande Velde so relax on the whole 4th round pick is an asset thing. It is not much of one.

    I made a comment earlier about taking a sleeper in the third, it was of course sarcasm. Sleeper picks are extremely rare, the idea the by giving up a 4th round pick the has a .02% chance of becoming a Zetterberg is ridiculous. You have the same chance of finding one ion any of your other late rounds. Do you really think Detroit new the players they were getting when the drafted them late? They got lucky, it was not their development strategy, it was luck pure luck the these guys turned out to be the players they are. Brown may be an NHL castoff, but he can be an effective NHL player. I am willing to give him a shot, what is he going to do make the Oilers worse? Maybe Hall won’t have any more “leg injuries” if there is guy on the bench that will have his back.

  • CaptainLander

    The thing about taking other players cast offs is, you hope to get luckey maybe the guy turns into something more you never know.

    I believe thier is a term for it. Uh yea Reclemation Project. We have all heard it before and even seen it, just not on the oilers…