Saturday, September 25, 2021

Brown hopes homecoming can fuel his NHL career

Blues acquire St. Louis-grown center, conditional pick in 2022 from Senators 
for Sanford; could join father Jeff as fifth father-son duo to play for Blues 

ST. LOUIS -- Not even a 16-hour drive could erase the happiness Logan Brown was feeling Saturday afternoon.

Heck, a week ago, he just made the trek north -- for 16 hours! -- to get to Ottawa for the start of training camp with the Senators after signing a one-year, two-way contract worth $750,000 NHL/$100,000 AHL. 
(Ottawa Senators photo)
Logan Brown returns home to St. Louis after the Blues
acquired him from the Senators on Saturday.

Turn back around Logan, you're coming home.

The Raleigh, N.C.-born, St. Louis grown native is headed to the Blues after he was acquired, along with a conditional 2022 fourth-round pick for forward Zach Sanford.

Brown, whose father Jeff was a defenseman for the Blues from 1989-1994, was the 11th pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, one of five St. Louisans (six in total overall) to get selected in the first round of the 2016 draft along with Matthew Tkachuk (Calgary), Clayton Keller (Arizona), Luke Kunin (Minnesota) and Trent Frederic (Boston), becomes the first of returning to his hometown in hopes of one day soon wearing the Bluenote.

"I definitely didn't see (the trade) coming, but absolutely I'm pumped," Brown said. "I grew up in St. Louis. I've played for the junior Blues my whole life. Honestly, it's surreal. To be able to get an opportunity to play in my hometown in the NHL is what every kid dreams of."

If Brown, who played in 30 games for the Senators over four seasons and has scored nine points (one goal, eight assists) over parts of four seasons, could become the fifth sets of father-son duos to dress in a game for the Blues, joining Bob and Brent Johnson, Mike and B.J. Crombeen, Basil and Philip McRae and Peter and Paul Stastny.

"One-hundred percent it's a dream come true," Logan Brown said. "To get an opportunity to play in your hometown with all my friends there, it's what you dream of growing up as a kid. When you're with the junior Blues, that was your dream to play for the real Blues."

Sanford, 26, was a bit of an enigma for the Blues in the sense that he had his good moments and frustrating ones. 

Sanford, who signed a one-year, $2 million  contract avoiding arbitration in August, scored 26 of his 38 career goals the past two seasons, including 16 in 2019-20. But he was given opportunities to play with playmakers in the top six and never could seem to get on any type of consistent footing here. He did score in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins that helped the Blues seal a 4-1 win and their first title.

But in moving Sanford's contract, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong was able to remove $2 million in cap space, putting the Blues roughly $731,000-plus under for the time being and looking at potential prospects to fill spots on the team, and or the potential of signing one or two veterans in training camp on professional tryout contracts, James Neal and Michael Frolik. 

"It was something that was made out of necessity and not out of desire in the sense that when we made our qualifying offers this summer, we didn't know what was going to happen with (Tyler) Bozak, we didn't know if we were going to be able to sign a free agent, we didn't know if we were going to be able to trade for (Pavel) Buchnevich, so there's all those things, and then at the end of the day you add it up and the cap was 81 (million) and we were 83 (million)," Armstrong said. "It's as much having to get cap-compliant and in doing that, we wanted to bring back a player that we saw upside in. 

"Logan's obviously a big man. He's 6-6, can play center and left wing, drafted I think 11th overall so he's got pedigree. Everyone evolves and matures at a different time and he needed a fresh start. I think Ottawa felt he needed a fresh start and we were the recipient of being able to do that right now. So we're looking forward to getting him in here. I don't want to say where he's going to play or who he's going to play with. That's up to the coach, and that's up to Logan to get here. But our guys are familiar with him. That's one of the greater things about having all those young players here, whether it's the Tkachuks or Frederic or Logan. These guys are now skating with our guys in the summer now so we get to see them with our guys, our guys get to know them. I think for Logan, the transition, not only in his personal like coming back and not having to stay at a hotel, but he can bunk back in his dad's house and then come to the rink and know a lot of the guys on the team. The long answer is we're excited to give a young player an opportunity."

Brown admits a fresh start could benefit him. He played in just one game for the Senators last season after 23 the previous year. 

"It's definitely nice to get a fresh start," Brown said. "Things didn't go obviously as well as I would have liked them to in Ottawa at the start of my career, but I'm feeling great right now, I'm healthy and in good shape. A fresh start is just rejuvenating. I'm feeling really good heading back there."

Brown could challenge for one of those spots on the fringe, or back end, with a good camp, but chances are he'll likely begin in Springfield (Mass.) with the Thunderbirds of the AHL, but that doesn't mean he won't come here looking to make a good first impression.

Brown skated with many of these players in the summer and has familiarity with them.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Minnesota's Nick Foligno (right) blocks a shot by Zach Sanford last
season. Sanford was traded by the Blues to Ottawa on Saturday.

"They just won it, so obviously it's one of the best teams in the league," Brown said of the Blues. "Coming in, I just want to show the coaches and the players what I can bring and to help them win games and try to go on another run.

"I like to distribute the puck and try and make players around me better and give them lots of some opportunities and create lots of opportunities with my size and my skill."

When Brown got the call of the trade, he couldn't wait to tell his family. They spoiled his fun, though.

"My dad had actually found out about it through the grapevine before I could get a chance to call him," Brown said. "He knew about it. My whole family knew and they're just ecstatic for me coming home. It's really special. All my friends are texting me too. That's home. I grew up there. I know everyone there. It's surreal."

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