Since I’ve started covering the Kings, Dustin Brown has been one of the most interesting players for me to watch develop. He made his name early as a massive hitter, but he really attracted my attention when he had a big offensive year in Manchester during the lockout. It made me think a lot about him, and about how great of an overall player he could be if he put pucks in net more consistently. He’s done a better job this year, with a career-best 16 goals, but today I got a chance to ask Marc Crawford about Brown’s offensive potential.
Almost before I could finish the question, Crawford said, “30 goals. I think he can be a 30-goal scorer but he has to do it consistently. The biggest thing is whether he wants to be.”
That was an interesting point on Crawford’s part. It seems to me that Brown is so focused on being a big hitter and a responsible defender that sometimes he’s not as aggressive when it comes to shooting or creating offensive chances for himself. Crawford contrasted Brown to a guy like Michael Cammalleri, who always seems hungry to put the puck in the net.
“When you talk about Mike Cammalleri, there’s no doubt that he wants to score goals,” Crawford said. “He gets a lot of pleasure and self value out of it. Dustin needs to get the same value out of scoring goals. He’s been dedicated to his work on the power play and the penalty kill, but in five-on-five he needs to have the same desire that we see from guys like Cammalleri and Frolov.”
With some guys, it’s just not in their nature to seek the puck, but in Dustin’s case, that NEEDS to happen. He has the talent, and he’s on the verge of being a major threat as a top-six forward. But as Crawford pointed out, it’s easy to forget that Brown is only 22 years old.
“Luc (Robitaille) is always getting on him and saying, `Don’t you know that the goal scorers are the guys who get paid?”’ Crawford said with a laugh. “Dustin takes pride in his physical game but he needs to take pride in scoring as well. He can score 30 goals by accident one year, but he needs to do it consistently, and he can.”
Brown said he realizes that he needs to take the next step in terms of becoming a top-level scorer, and said the challenge is to maintain his physical play.
“Obviously everyone likes to score,” Brown said. “I need to score like I have been (recently). It’s a key part of my game, but if I’m struggling a little, or not scoring, there are other things I can focus on. My role this year is similar to one I had (in Manchester during the lockout). The one thing that’s different is the goaltending, because it’s much better. At this level it takes time to adjust and you have to work hard.”