Senators forward Logan Brown enters rookie camp with something to prove

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OTTAWA — Logan Brown believes he has the ability to be the best player on the ice, and this weekend he intends to prove it.

The Ottawa Senators prospect is headed to Belleville to take part in the three-team rookie tournament that will also feature prospects from the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets. His goal is to prove to the Senators’ management and new coaching staff that he can be an NHL player.

Brown, selected 11th overall in 2016, has been criticized in the past for deficiencies in his defensive game, but he said he is committed to be being the best version of himself this year.

“I want to play in the NHL and for me to play in the NHL I’m going to have to be the best player here,” Brown said Thursday afternoon. “I’m confident I’m going to be and I’m kind of excited to get there and show them.”

Brown got a taste of professional hockey last season with American Hockey League Belleville Senators. He had 14 goals and 28 assists through 56 games despite being hampered by injuries.

Listed at six foot six and 220 pounds, Brown is an imposing figure on the ice. But he will need to be at his best in both the rookie camp and Senators main camp to earn a roster spot. Artem Anisimov, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Chris Tierney and Colin White, who recently signed a six-year extension, are among the other centres heading into camp.

Brown says he’s excited by the hiring of new head coach D.J. Smith, who will allow the 21-year-old to start off with a clean slate.

“I think his style hockey fits my game so I’m excited for him to come in here and change things up,” Brown said. “He just said I’ve got to come in here and fight for a spot. There’s four centres here right now so I’ve got to come in and beat someone out of their job and that’s the plan.

“I definitely think it’s a fresh start, but I had all the motivation in the world before these coaches. I don’t want to be an AHL player my whole life, I want to be an NHL player. One year in the (AHL) is enough for me and that’s enough motivation.”

While Brown usually spends his summers at a nearby family cottage outside Ottawa, this year he chose to alter his training regimen and return to St. Louis, which he considers home.

Brown worked with a new trainer who focused on longer and higher intensity workouts.

“From day one I noticed the difference and on the ice I felt it right away with how much better I felt so I’m definitely excited to put it to use.”

Brown knows a strong showing this weekend is just the first step, but a first impression can often be a lasting impression.

“I need to be pushing the pace, be leading and make plays and do everything,” Brown said. “If you just fit in, you’re probably not ready.”

Brown is expected to centre a line with fellow prospects Drake Batherson and Alex Formenton, who are also vying for a role in Ottawa.

Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press