“I consider myself the best penalty killer”

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The Washington Capitals entered the 2022 offseason missing much of their right wing depth due to Tom Wilson’s injury absence. The team was always likely to be looking for a forward this offseason who could replace near the top of their roster and that’s exactly what they got from the Ottawa Senators in the form of Connor Brown.

Brown, a seven-year NHL veteran, comes to DC after being deemed unnecessary after the Senators signed Claude Giroux in free agency.

Brown spoke to the media Tuesday about the decision and what he thinks he brings to the table on the Caps.

“I thought I was going to be traded, but I didn’t really know Washington was an option,” Brown said Tuesday. “You just hear a lot about different teams. It was a shock at first, but once it settled in, I’m so excited. I think my game will fit in well here. I played against them for years. The way they play, I’m excited. I’m really excited to be part of it.

Trade rumors have been swirling around the 28-year-old winger for some time as it was fatality in ottawa that the two parties were probably never going to reach an agreement in terms of a contract extension. Brown’s current deal expires after this upcoming season. For a time it was rumored that Brown left for the Edmonton Oilers, but that never materialized despite many reports and the Caps sent a second-round selection in 2024 to secure his services.

Brown has played at every level for Ottawa and is a 20-goal scorer on multiple occasions, but it’s his shorthanded play that he thinks is his most appealing ability in the NHL. He finished as the Senators’ leading forward in shorthanded playing time with 2:38 per game and in the league’s top 10 in shorthanded points overall last season with four.

“I think maybe my biggest asset as a player is my penalty kill. I think I consider myself one of the best penalty killers,” the Toronto native said. “I think I will definitely help the penalty kill in a big way. I think that’s an important part. All the small things. Defensively, as a forward, I think I steal pucks. I can play tenacious. I consider that I do a bit of everything. I think I can help the second unit and every little thing that I can do and can contribute, I will try to contribute everything. I can’t identify one here.

“Actually when I was playing as a junior I always thought I was a talented striker and I still see myself as that, but I remember my junior coach telling me that I really had to focus on doing to be a good penalty killer, which is something I’m proud of,” Brown added. “Since then, I really have. I try to have a knack for stealing pucks. I really just like killing penalties. I think it’s just such an important part of the game. It’s something I’m proud of. »

Combined with Carl Hagelin’s uncertainty and the departure of fourth-row winger Johan Larsson, there were a few shorthanded minutes that needed to be filled. Only one player in the entire league over the past three seasons, former Cap Jay Beagle (2:49), has averaged more shorthanded ice time per game than Brown (2:42).

“It was important,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said Wednesday of a player who could fill that role. “In the same vein, our PK did well when Carl was out too. In the playoffs we were really good. He’s a legit first PK guy, Connor Brown is. He brings energy. He brings speed. He pressures the puck really well. He’ll have a lot of PK time for us. He’s a good addition to our PK with him in the lineup.

As for his fit in the five-on-five team, Brown is aware of the giant hole Wilson left on the right side of the team’s front row. The winger is no stranger to playing with superstars as he has skated alongside Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews in the past.

“I think it would be easy,” he said of playing with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. “There are two of the greatest talents in the league for a long time. I have been on the other side. Obviously, it would be amazing to play with these two guys. This team has a lot of good players in the lineup, so I don’t think there’s a bad place you can fall. I think I will have time up there and throughout the lineup. When it comes to playing with these guys they are world class players, fun to watch and a lot of fun to play with.

With his contract up after the 2022-23 season, Brown could be in contention for a big deal next offseason if he’s able to produce on this veteran-laden Capitals team.

“I don’t know if it’s a year of proof,” he said when asked about his future. “I think six years in the league and I’ve been pretty consistent throughout, especially the last three years, night after night doing what I do. I see this year as an opportunity to win. I’m looking to get back in the playoffs. I want to play meaningful hockey. More than anything, I just try not to focus too much on my future and do whatever I can to help the team win.

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