Mike Brown paid the price of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ glut in personnel, particularly when it comes to tough guys.
The 27-year-old winger was traded to the Edmonton Oilers on Monday for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2014 NHL entry draft. If the Oilers make the playoffs, the Leafs will get a better pick, probably in the third round, from Edmonton.
With bruisers Frazer McLaren and Colton Orr also in the lineup, Brown found himself the odd man out with scoring winger Matt Frattin set to return from a seven-game absence due to a knee injury. Nonis said the Leafs will decide at game time if Frattin will play Monday night at the Air Canada Centre against the New Jersey Devils.
It’s clear Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle likes his fighters and he seems especially keen on the heavyweights, although Brown’s 70 minutes in penalties is third in the NHL this season. At 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, Brown was the smallest of the Leafs’ trio of tough guys. It did not help as well that Brown is no stranger to injuries. He missed eight games so far this season with what the team called an upper-body injury but is healthy right now.
“It was primarily [to create] a roster spot,” Nonis said of the reason for the trade. He expects to need room for a couple players from the Leafs’ Toronto Marlies farm team and “with Mike in and out of the lineup,” it was easiest to move Brown.
“[McLaren’s] play made it easier,” Nonis said. “He is able to play in all situations and Randy feels comfortable with him.”
Brown has a history with Nonis and former Leafs GM Brian Burke. He was drafted by Burke and Nonis in 2004 when they ran the Vancouver Canucks. Burke traded for him when he moved on to the Anaheim Ducks and again in June, 2010 when he was with the Leafs.
Brown’s willingness to play hard and not back down from a challenge to fight made him popular with his teammates. Neither he nor they were happy about the trade.
“That’s the part of this business that sucks,” Leafs winger Clarke MacArthur said. “Obviously, he was upset. He’s got a lot of friends here. He’s a character guy in the room. He’ll be missed.”
Nonis said there are no other deals in sight for the Leafs right now “but that can change.” He also said defenceman Mike Komisarek, contrary to speculation on the weekend, has not asked for a trade. However, it is clear the veteran, who has been a healthy scratch most of the season, has been made available. It is thought he already supplied the Leafs with a list of teams to which he would accept a trade, as he has a no-move clause in his contract.
“Mike Komisarek has not asked for a trade,” Nonis said. “What Mike has said is if it is in the best interest of the team he would not stand in the way. But his preference is to stay and get back in the lineup.”