For hockey fans, training camp means that hockey has finally returned. For NHL players, it means that the long journey to the Stanley Cup is just beginning. But, for prospects, training camp represents an opportunity.
For players in the Blues’ farm system, this year represents one of the best opportunities Blues prospects will ever get. With the lack of depth the Blues have up front, there are a number of holes that could be filled by rookies in the upcoming season.
One player looking to take advantage of the opportunity is 23-year-old Marc Brown.
“I have no expectations for next year. I would like to play in the NHL. All I can do is develop my skills to the best of my ability and wait for my chance,” said Brown, who was signed by St. Louis as an undrafted free agent. “I feel I can always get stronger, faster and I am making a lot of improvement working out with our strength and conditioning coach here in Worcester.”
While the roster spots are available at the NHL level, Brown hasn’t gotten any indication from Blues management what their plans are for him in the upcoming season, but that hasn’t discouraged the hard working forward.
“Management wants their players to improve every year so they do not make a habit of telling players where they may and may not be in future seasons.”
The left-winger finished fourth on the Worcester IceCats in scoring last season, scoring 30 goals and 25 assists in 74 games. He was also a force in Worcester’s three playoff games, where he tallied 4 points.
There are still a couple quality forwards left on the free agent market, but GM Larry Pleau has been very adamant about sticking to the $57 million salary cap that he recommended to Blues owner, Bill Laurie. This has left the Pleau preaching that the Blues will be improving from within, and if possible, through trades. Though, without any NHL proven young forwards, the latter will be difficult.
Brown is a dependable two-way forward and is a prime candidate to fill the void left when right-winger Scott Young signed with the Dallas Stars last week. In all likelihood, Brown wouldn’t be able to put up the offensive numbers that Young is capable of in his first NHL season, but he offers a more complete game than any other prospect currently in the Blues farm system.
“I like to take care of the defensive end of the ice first and then contribute offensively. I was more of a goal scorer in junior but my role has changed since I have been playing pro. It made me more aware of how important it is to be strong on both ends of the ice.”
Early last month, Brown began his summer workout plan with Jeff Oliver, the fitness trainer of the Blues and the IceCats. The program, which is held at Cross College, calls for four 2-hour workouts every week that improve quickness, strength and agility.
“In this line of work, not even hard work is a guarantee of achievement. I just don’t want to look back at any point and be able to say to myself, ‘Maybe I could of done better’”