Of all the bottom six to straight up fourth line forwards that the Flyers stuck in the lineup throughout the 2021-22 season, Patrick Brown could be considered one of the better plugs. After being claimed off waivers by the Flyers from the Vegas Golden Knights, Brown played over half a season’s worth of games for the Orange and Black, and put up triple his career total in points in that time period.
However, given he had only tallied three NHL points prior, this becomes less and less glorious the more one looks into it. This isn’t to say that Patrick Brown didn’t have a good season. For what we were expecting from a fourth liner, Patrick Brown delivered! Guys like Brown and Gerry Mayhew, who finally get their shot and put their hearts and souls on the line to keep their roster spot, create moments of escapism and joy in what was otherwise a meaningless season.
Despite this, Patrick Brown’s success didn’t and likely won’t mean anything to the Flyers’ overall success.
Patrick Brown played in 44 games as a Flyer, scoring 4 goals and adding 5 assists for 9 points, easily an NHL career best. Before this, Brown had been a member of the Henderson Silver Knights, Vegas’ AHL affiliate, where he was named captain. He has also served as captain for the Charlotte Checkers, affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, for a few seasons.
Brown was a proven leader and winner in the AHL, having hoisted the Calder Cup in 2018-19. In that particular playoff run, he scored 10 points in 11 games. While he was never a proven scorer in the AHL, he was clearly a desirable player to have. However, this is a review of his 2021-22 season, and not of his previous AHL exploits, and quite simply, Patrick Brown’s skill level puts him at a 4th line at best rating in the big show. He just really isn’t all that good, which is a shame because he really is a player you want to like.
Brown spent an average of 10:27 minutes on the ice at 5-on-5 as a Flyer, and like most Flyer skaters, got torched from a game swing perspective. The Flyers were heavily outshot when Brown was on the ice, and unlike other 4th liners like Gerry Mayhew (2.67 CF% Rel) who impacted the team positively in their limited time on the ice, Brown could not muster enough to push the Flyers out of their own zone (-4.60 CF% Rel). He performed better than Nate Thompson and Zach MacEwen in this regard, however. To make a long story short, when you want your 4th line to put pressure on opponents and at the very least keep the puck out of your own zone, the Flyers with Brown on the ice were incapable of doing that.
The Flyers also heavily relied on Brown to win defensive zone face-offs. In fairness, Brown was 58.8% on all draws last season, which was better than Sean Couturier. For perspective as well, Claude Giroux, who is considered a very good face-off taker, is a career 55.8% from the dot. It looks like Brown finally fulfilled the wish the Flyers had of Boyd Gordon all those years ago of winning key draws and doing really not much else otherwise.
Overall, it is likely Patrick Brown remains on the 4th line for the Flyers next season, and if that is the case, that is a completely fine outcome. Brown isn’t good, but he’s better than other options the Flyers have, and for a rebuilding team (or at least one that should rebuild), having his leadership qualities and work ethic around the team will be good for the young players coming up through the Flyer pipeline (think how good Jagr was for the Flyers’ youth back in 2011-12).
So skate on Patrick Brown, skate on.