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.

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.

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.

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.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • TKB2677

    Here is the thing people are forgetting. Eager is the Oilers functional “tough guy” but he can’t fight anymore because of concussions. Sure Eager can hit but he can’t get into the occasional scrap (that is still required from time to time) because of his concussion problems. So the Oilers NEED a guy that can play and occasionally when called upon, fight.

    The Oilers from top to bottom lack grit, physical play and guys that make like miserable to play against. They are WAY, WAY to easy to play against. Their bottom 6 is right now is Smyth, Belanger, Jones, Petrell, Vandervelde, Eager. Only Eager and Jones ever hit anyone.

    Lots of people are going to bitch and moan about MPS getting potentially sent down but face facts. Is he better than Hall, Nuge, Eberle, Yakupov, Hemsky or Gagner? Not even close. So he has to play in the bottom 6. THe problem is he isn’t gritty enough to play there right now based on who they have. Smyth is taking his spot right now and you can argue that Petrell is taking a spot for him too. I like Petrell, he is a hell of a penalty killer and shot blocker. But that is ALL he can do. If it was me, I would trade Petrell and give the spot to MPS. MPS has enough skill, the defensive smarts and especially the speed to take over Petrell.

    Right now once Horcoff comes back I would like to see the Oilers bottom 6 as:
    Jones Horcoff Smyth
    Eager Belanger Brown.
    MPS goes back to the farm to play out the year. He is getting close to being waiver eligible so you don’t want risk losing him. Then in the offseason, I tell Smyth it’s time to retire. You “buy” Smyth out so he gets his money. Then sign him to a 1 day contract so he retires and Oiler.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    This deal is a sign of life from a management team that looks to be dead.

    The day after this loser team (tell me they’re not losers) craps out one of its worst performances, where they put up ZERO shots on net in an entire period, management steps up gets a guy who plays as hard as he can every shift.

    He’s not brought here to score or dominate the heavy weight class. He’s here to help drive change. This team needs to pull up its socks in the effort and give-a-crap departments.

    And if Brown can skate (and it sounds like he can), he’s infinitely better than Sestito, Hordichuck, Stortini, etc.

    Two reasons I like this deal:

    1. It happens the day after the team completely ***** the bed. Management shows the team this type of play is not okay and that changes will be made.

    2. Brown’s play should rival Hallsy’s for the level of effort a player puts into a game. This is a step in the right direction for this loser team.

  • Zamboni Driver


    I would think they pay pro scouts to be ‘creative’, eh?

    And they come up with a guy named



    Who is also less than 6 feet tall.

    Problem solved.

  • Aitch

    The most interesting thing you wrote there Willis, was “More to Come.”

    I hope so. I don’t know enough about this player to say if he’ll help win more games or not, but given what I know about most NHL players, that tells me he’s not the missing link between the team we’ve seen and the team we want to see.

    This has to be a pre-cursor to another deal, doesn’t it?

  • Time Travelling Sean

    Hordi never really dropped the gloves though. It looks like he can play a regular shift and not be a complete embarrassment on the ice. I’d rather have some grit in the top 6 but w/e.

    A 4th is too high btw, we took cap off of TOs hands, they should be giving us the pick.

  • Eddie Shore

    Ok, as frustrated as I am I need to remember what I tell staff (and my kids for that matter) that if they don’t like something explain why and offer a solution.

    Here’s a reason why I don’t like this deal:
    A 4th rounder for Mike Brown. That is like giving Reider (Oilers ’11 4throunder) for Brown. Yuck! Mike Brown who comes to Edmonton after floating through several organizations (Vancouver, Anaheim and Toronto) never scoring more then 10 pts in 50+ games. I don’t see him as a >Hordichcuk.

    Here’s a player Edmonton should try and trade for: Marcus Foligno. Oh and what’s this… he was drafter by Buffalo in the 4th round of ’09.

    Now obviously with the draft its a crap shoot and Marcus Folignos don’t grow on trees but EDM surely could find a better player then Mike Brown.


  • vetinari

    This is a great move! Without moves like this, Tambellini may accidently improve the team and allow us to move up the standings and receive a lesser quality draft pick in 2013! This way, we keep our string of (near) last place finishes alive!

    • That’s hilarious.

      I actually don’t mind Mike Brown, but he’s instantly the most incompetent scorer among the Oilers’ forward corps. The idea that he’ll magically generate goals through grit despite a long-established record of being a sinkhole offensively is ridiculous.

      • Phixieus666

        I want to argue, I think Belanger is most incompetent scorer. Brown will be second. But I like what he brings and this opens up the option of moving eager. Maybe a Hemsky, Eager, Whitney to the Islanders for Nino and Vishnofsky. Why do the players need to have such hard a$$ names to spell?

          • Spydyr

            This is hilarious, defending the most incompetent hockey player on the Oilers roster. Eric Belenger. His only claim to fame is an average face off percentage……..so what!

            If Brown can do anything more than Belenger, he is automatically an upgrade. It’s because we think guys like Belenger, Horcoff, and Petrell are so good that we are where we are.

            A total upgrade on the bottom six is required, not trading for someone else’s castoffs. If Tamby and Lowe think that somehow adding a marginal player is going to improve our fortunes…….they are sadly mistaken.

            I do not see the value of this deal from any angle.

          • Hair bag

            Rama Lama you don’t see the value in anything. It is obvious with every post you put on this website that you know nothing about the dynamics of hockey, the dressing room, role players – I would say hockey in general other than being able to turn on your tv to the channel that has the game on. Then you bitch and complain on here like you’re some kind of expert. I used to be annoyed when I read your dribble now I just have to laugh at you…if I didn’t know any better I would swear you and DAF or DSF whatever his handle is were paid to be on here to stoke the flames of controversy with you asinine comments.

          • Eddie Shore

            Furbag?? Hairbag??Dirtbag……whichever moniker you go by………I’m still waiting for your insightful, thoughts on how Brown makes us better?

            Obviously you have an opinion?? Any idiot can be a critic of others, me included, although I reserve this right for Tamby and Lowe, as they deserve the most credit for building this team.

            Maybe you can get a job with them and teach them what to do?

          • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

            He actually offers an argument. You just berate others. When your main case is saying `dynamics of hockey, the dressing room, role players`… You offer nothing. You might as well copy paste main stream media cliches.

            If you are going to criticize someone on their arguement, explain why.

          • Hair bag

            I criticize RL because almost every one of his posts berates Oiler Management for not doing this or that. Well there is nothing you can do about what management does so why not offer some suggestions/solutions to the issues instead of just complaining that they are incompetent. Saying you need to change the bottom six or get a big centerman is fine but let’s hear who exactly you would trade for and who you would give up and make it realistic. Every one of the Oiler management is a hockey lifer with far more knowledge and experience than anyone putting their two cents on this forum – do you honestly think they don’t know the issues or that they are not trying to find solutions!?!

            As far as the “dynamics of hockey, the dressing room, role players, etc”, these are not just cliches – they are actual facets of a hockey team. Anyone who has played on a winning team knows that there are many ingredients (so to speak) that go into success ie the dynamics of hockey. The number of goals, assists, does not a winning hockey team make – it is the chemistry of personalities in the room that ultimately determines success ie the dressing room. Role players are the other ingredients aside from skill players that you need in a room in for success. You can’t win with a team full of Gretzky’s…

          • hoil

            Hayek wrote:

            The number of goals, assists, does not a winning hockey team make – it is the chemistry of personalities in the room that ultimately determines success ie the dressing room. Role players are the other ingredients aside from skill players that you need in a room in for success. You can’t win with a team full of Gretzky’s…

            Actually, the winner at the end of the hockey game is ultimately determined by the team scoring the most goals. A team that wins that hockey game by scoring the most goals is therefore a “winning hockey team.” Meanwhile, “chemistry of personalities” is one of those imaginary intangibles that luckily enough for its believers manages to escape any burden of proof of existence at all.

            “You can’t win with a team full of Gretzky’s…”

            Yeah, I suppose you would need a goaltender, but I bet that goalie wouldn’t have to be very good for the team to win.

          • Phixieus666

            Not so sure man, Team full of Gretzky’s might not be so great against a team full of Hartnells. It would look like friggin football out there with all the hits. Could you imagine a team full of Dustin Brown’s.

          • Phixieus666

            I was more just making reference to the whole belanger triangle thing from last season. Which I find funny because he’s been pretty much the same this year but no one has said anything.

            JW what do you think the odds are of this being a precursor to an other 2-3 moves by the team up to the deadline?

      • ScottieA

        Thank you Jonathan, this is why this deal hurts my head so much at the moment. We acquire an offensive sinkhole the day after a game where we don’t get a single shot on goal in the second period.

        My guess is he will be swapping places with Ben Eager in the pressbox depending on the Oilers’ opponents.

  • The Soup Fascist

    So who gets sent down?

    Kind of a “meh” trade, IMO. Guy is ballsy for sure, but I am not sure this is the kind of thing that turns a season, let alone a team around. A less positive person than myself may say this is the equivalent of reshuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic…….

  • Reg Dunlop

    This is just a practice trade, Tambo getting a feel for dealing. We need some top 6 forwards with nuts, another press box plug does nothing.

    A fourth round pick is nothing to give up and you get nothing for nothing.

  • Dustin Terpstra

    This is a good move. Brown can play a regular shift and adds some toughness. He can play regular shifts. The only reason he got bumped down the depth chart is Colton Orr basically reinvented himself and has been a great player this year in his role. McLaren has been able to generate some offense this year as well putting him ahead. Brown can play 9min/game a far cry from hordis 49seconds. Solid move