Is there such a thing as having too many center prospects?
Despite having selected Dylan Strome, Christian Dvorak, and Ryan MacInnis within the past three years, yet another center prospect has catapulted himself up the draft standings and into the range that the Arizona Coyotes will ultimately select in.
So who is Logan Brown? And might the Coyotes buck expectations and select him with the 7th overall pick?
Logan Brown - Center - Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
2015-16 Stats - 59 GP - 21 G, 53 A, 40 PIMs
A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Logan Brown's first season in the OHL back in 2014-15 was respectable, but not particularly impressive. He put up 17 goals and 26 assists in 56 games for the Spitfires that season. This year he improved quite significantly.
The first thing that stands out about Brown is his size. At 6' 6" and 220 pounds, Brown is the kind of large center that NHL scouts and GMs salivate over. He blossomed into a scoring and playmaking threat towards the end of the regular season campaign, with 15 goals in his last 24 games.
Additionally, there is already some Coyotes chemistry with Brown, as he has been the pivot for 2015 32nd overall pick Christian Fischer all season long. Fischer's production improved by a staggering 300% over his draft season (30 points in 2014-15 compared to 90 in 2015-16), and Brown undoubtedly contributed to that success.
Choosing Logan Brown does come with risks however. Brown's ascension up the draft board came rapidly; Bob McKenzie had Logan Brown in the #20 spot back in Februrary, and while scouting services unanimously agree that his stock has risen, they are divided as to exactly how much it has risen. While there wasn't unanimous agreement on Dylan Strome at #3, he was pegged in the Top 5 by pretty much everybody.
And speaking of Dylan Strome, the Coyotes have no shortage of prospects at the center position. The list of centers in the Coyotes pool includes the aforementioned Strome, Dvorak, and MacInnis, but it is further supplemented by Maxim Letunov, Tyler Gaudet, Laurent Dauphin, and even arguably Max Domi were the Coyotes ever to decide to shift him back over to center.
And of course, Arizona's biggest issue remains its severely depleted defensive prospect pool. High-skill difference makers are extremely hard to come by on the trade market, and even harder in free agency. If the Coyotes are going to develop that position, doing it via the draft is all but a necessity.
Choosing Brown would mean passing up on three or four different defensive prospects, at least one of whom will be available at #7. Arizona wouldn't pick again until #20, and depending on which prospect ranking you look at, there aren't really any defensemen there either.
Logan Brown definitely comes with opportunity costs. But his production this year is tantalizing, and his size and frame are not teachable. The Coyotes already have one productive big center in Martin Hanzal. If Logan Brown could become a healthier version of Hanzal, the Coyotes would have set themselves up tremendously well to compete down the middle in the Pacific Division.