In typical Edmonton Oiler fashion, GM Ken Holland signed another former Toronto Maple Leafs player this past off-season when he was able to ink 20-goal scorer Connor Brown to a one-year deal.
The former Toronto Maple Leafs winger was a cap casualty during the summer of 2019 when GM Kyle Dubas had to include him in a deal to move Nikita Zaitsev’s contract to the Ottawa Senators.
Brown would continue to be an affective middle six winger in the Nation’s capital, however, after being moved to Washington last season he missed all but four games during the 2022-23 year due to a serious knee injury.
In an attempt to get his career going again, he signed a one-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers that had a heavy amount of performance bonuses. Brown signed for a league minimum, however if he were to play ten games, he would earn a bonus of $3.225 Million, but that money would go against the team cap next year.
Former Toronto Maple Leafs Winger in Tough Situation
Many Oilers fans quickly fell in love with Brown during pre-season and some I spoke with called him a smaller version of Zach Hyman. TSN’s Ryan Rishaug even commented that he was surprised with the jump Brown had. Unfortunately, Brown has had a rough start to the 2023-24 season as he had gone pointless in his first nine games and has not dressed for a game since November 2, missing the last four games with what is described as an undisclosed injury.
The information from CapFriendly.com in regards to the bonus on the contract is “ten games played”, but it is not clear if that is NHL games or AHL games, so if it is ten games total, one game in the minors activates that signing bonus.
This aspect of his contract makes Brown not just untradeable to another team, but no franchise would even take him off waivers as they would not want to risk $3.2M of cap space next year to a player that is coming off a serious knee injury.
Brown may be caught in a situation where he is scratched for the rest of the season to avoid a potential season hampering cap bonus next year.
One solution that could come is that the Edmonton Oilers and Brown would come to a mutual agreement to terminate his contract. The downside of this situation is that Brown, who is still set to earn around $600,000 for the remainder of the year that he would be giving up the rights to collect that salary. However, he could potentially sign on with a team to be able to play some games, even if it is in the AHL rather than sit around.
This is where Toronto could come in, they could give him a guaranteed pro rated contract at the league minimum which is what he is currently making and either give him an opportunity on the roster or start him in the AHL.