Connor Brown unhappy but healthy scratch entirely justified by Oilers

The Oilers made the long overdue decision to sit Connor Brown, leading to questions of what the future holds for the extremely disappointing offseason addition.
Vancouver Canucks v Edmonton Oilers
Vancouver Canucks v Edmonton Oilers / Codie McLachlan/GettyImages

There was a lot of understandable relief back in Edmonton, as the Oilers ended their three-game losing streak on Thursday night. The 6-3 win over the Devils might not have been as straightforward as the final scoreline suggests, but it was still deserved as well as much-needed.

Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan McLeod, Sam Gagner and Mattias Ekholm all contributed two points on the night. The significance of this is that in just one game, each of them surpassed what Connor Brown has managed so far this season in 23 games.

That would be the same Connor Brown who was a healthy scratch on Thursday night in New Jersey. For many, this was long overdue for a player who's also tied for a team-worst -10 plus/minus rating as of Friday morning and has just been a major disappointment in general during his time in Edmonton.

Brown was visibly angry as he came off the ice after practice on Wednesday. This led to the question of how he could have an issue with the decision to sit him, given just how poor he's been this season?

Deserved, but no easy decision

In fairness though, we appreciate the 29-year-old is a competitor, who wants to be out there on the ice contributing and helping his team. In addition, it might be more of a case that he was just angry at himself, knowing he has no one else to blame for this turn of events.

Regardless, don't think for one minute that it was an easy decision for Kris Knoblauch to make. As per Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, the Oilers coach struggled with the idea of sitting Brown as a healthy scratch.

In addition, the two do have a relationship that dates back to their time together with the Erie Otters. In the end though, the three consecutive losses that ended the eight-game winning streak finally gave Knoblauch an 'excuse' to sit the Toronto native.

Harsh or not, Brown is not exactly the most popular player on the team this season. It doesn't help that he received a $3.225 million bonus after playing 10 games, although the finger of blame should really be pointed towards the front office for that. (Who among us wouldn't agree to such an incentive being included in our contract?)

What now for Brown?

In any event, it's now a case of wondering what the future holds for Brown, who will become an unrestricted free agent come season's end. As things stand, you imagine there's little to no chance the Oilers will be looking to re-sign him.

However, there has to be at least a glimmer of hope the 2012 sixth round draft pick can still somehow rediscover his form, with him usually good for 30+ points per season. For the majority of his time in the NHL, he's been a complimentary two-way option in the top six.

On the flip side, Brown has a goal drought which extends 41 games, back to his time with the Senators in 2021-22. There is also the concern he has just not recovered from his ACL surgery last season, and may never fully do so.

If nothing else -- pending any uncertainty surrounding his ACL -- perhaps the healthy scratch will serve as a wake-up call for Brown. Combined with playing for his NHL future after this season, if he's not motivated to start producing more now, then he's never going to be.

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