Photo credit:Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
Connor Brown appears set to return to the Oilers’ lineup on Saturday
By Cam Lewis3 months ago
After missing six games due to injury, Connor Brown is ready to return to the Oilers’ lineup.
Brown led the team’s post-practice stretch in Tampa on Friday and he’ll draw in when the Oilers open their four-game road trip against the Lightning on Saturday.
Brown suffered what the team referred to as a “lower-body injury” during Edmonton’s 4-3 loss to the Dallas Stars earlier this month. He appeared to hurt his foot accelerating off of a faceoff in the first period and didn’t return to the ice for the rest of the game.
Given the fact Brown missed nearly all of last season because of a torn ACL, there was immediate concern that this could have been another serious injury, but it was never major enough for the Oilers to place him on the Long-Term Injured Reserve. In order to be LTIR-eligible, a player must be expected to miss at least 10 NHL games and 24 days on the active roster, and Brown was out for six games.
The Oilers inked Brown to a one-year, $4 million contract on the first day of free agency this summer. His contract features a league-minimum $775k salary along with $3.225 million in performance bonuses that are earned when Brown reaches 10 games played during the 2023-24 season.
This game against Tampa Bay will be Brown’s 10th, so that bonus will kick in and will be added to next year’s salary cap as an overage from this season.
There’s been plenty of discussion that the Oilers should cut Brown before he reaches the 10-game threshold in order to save themselves the salary cap hassle, but it was always unlikely that would happen given Connor McDavid played a significant role in getting Brown to sign this contract in the summer. For better or worse, the Oilers ultimately viewed the performance bonus as a contingency plan for a major injury rather than one in which they’d decide to keep Brown based on performance.
Brown hasn’t registered a point through nine games this season but his underlying numbers, including a team-leading 61.9 percent shot attempt differential, would indicate better results are around the corner. The Oilers had better hope that’s the case, because this isn’t an inexpensive experiment to make.
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