2014-15 Season Review: Mike Brown
We continue our postmortem of the Sharks' 2014-15 season with a review of a player who didn't get into very many games during it in Mike Brown.
Fear The Fin Player Card (click to enlarge; a glossary of terms used can be found here; all data courtesy War On Ice, Behind the Net, Hockey Analysis, NHLNumbers and NHL.com; stick tap to Japers' Rink):
2014-15 Sharks 5v5 Forward Usage Chart (via Hockey Abstract):
Mike Brown HERO Chart (via Own The Puck):
The Good: Uh...pass?
The Bad: Due to a pair of unfortunate hand and leg injuries, Mike Brown was limited to just 12 games this season and it's impossible to judge him on that sample alone. The Sharks did go 8-4 with Brown in the lineup but to ascribe those results to Brown's 98 minutes of ice time in which San Jose was outshot heavily while both scoring and allowing one goal is...dubious, to say the least. Luckily we have 300 prior games of experience to help us pass judgment on Brown as a NHL player and the conclusion is obvious: he isn't one.
Among the 412 forwards to have played at least 2000 5-on-5 minutes from 2007 through 2014, Brown ranked 406th in shot differential. The six players ranked below him are all out of the league. Hell, the six players directly ahead of him are no longer NHLers either. His on-ice goal differential was even worse and, again, almost everyone in his vicinity is out of the league. To top it off only Colton Orr and Zenon Konopka, both ex-NHLers themselves, scored fewer points per 60 minutes over that span than Brown. A lot of people would point to John Scott as being the worst player on the Sharks' 2014-15 roster but there's a fairly convincing argument to be made that it was actually Brown. He's a better skater than Scott, and for that reason fares better by the eye test, but his overall on-ice impact is almost indistinguishable from the career enforcer. Brown doesn't belong in the league and legitimate Cup contenders simply don't employ players like him anymore.
Here's Mike Brown landing a couple of bombs against a decidedly bigger opponent in Kyle Clifford. Give Brown credit: he isn't a big dude but he's willing to drop the gloves with just about anybody, for whatever that's worth.
The Future: It's not Mike Brown's fault he was signed to an inexplicable 2-year, $2.4 million contract last summer. If you were a fringe AHLer offered that deal by a NHL GM who still hasn't learned his lesson about giving eminently replaceable fourth liners term, you'd have signed it too. That deal, which runs through next season, is on Doug Wilson, another example of him overvaluing grit and hard work over actual NHL-caliber hockey-playing ability in bottom-six forwards (a different example will be paid $1.85 million to play in the AHL next season).
The Sharks need to dump Brown for anything they can this summer. Getting a 7th round pick in 2017 for him would be a win. They can't give their next coaching staff the ability to dress him over capable fourth-line options (side note: the Sharks need to acquire some capable fourth-line options). Look around the league at the teams still alive in the playoffs; their fourth lines are staffed by guys like Dominic Moore and Brian Boyle and Curtis Glencross and Marcus Kruger and Emerson Etem and Andrew Shaw and Brooks Laich. Those are players with a track record of helping their teams win the possession battle and chipping in offense even when deployed primarily in the defensive zone. Brown (and Scott and Burish and Ben Eager and Scott Nichol and Frazer McLaren) can't do any of that. The Sharks need to move beyond viewing their fourth line as a dumping ground for goons and talent-devoid "energy" guys. The league's successful teams already have, and they've left the Sharks behind.
The Vote: Grade Brown below on a typical grading curve from A+ to F based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season. If he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a A+; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a C+ or C; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him an F.
How would you grade Brown's 2014-15 season?