Brown still punishes opponents. He's paced the Los Angeles Kings in Hits every season since the statistic was first recorded in 2005-06. If you're not sure how long that is, let Robert Duvall educate you:
Dustin's 2,526 hits top the NHL over the last decade. Sure, it's a flawed stat—but that's a world of Hertl for LA's rivals.
He also registered a strong penalty killing campaign. A former shorthanded stalwart, Brown was entrusted with just 37:52 4v5 minutes in 2013-14. He regained his status:
|4v5 TOI||4v5 FA60||4v5 FA60 RelTM|
The captain's 5v5 Shots/60 and Even Strength Penalty Differential remained robust:
|5v5 Shots/60||Team Rank||Qualified Forwards (500+ 5v5 mins...300+ for 2012-13)|
|ES Penalty Differential||Team Rank|
Opponents still punish Brown. Since Hits Taken was first recorded in 2007-08, he's been struck 996 times, most among all NHL forwards.
Like its counterpart, Hits Taken is subjective—Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams also finished inside the top 15 among all forwards since 2007—but who would be shocked if the 30-year-old was a little worse for wear because of his rough-and-tumble game?
Of course, Kings fans would be thrilled if the drop in Dustin's production could be described as "a little worse for wear" as opposed to "used up." For the second straight season, he disappointed on the scoresheet, which is a problem when carrying what's currently the team's second-largest cap hit (among forwards) over the next seven years.
More disturbing is the fact that his production has actually cratered for the last THREE seasons:
His 2012-13 was papered over by regular power play usage (2:49 PP TOI) and a career-best scoring rate (6.16 5v4 P/60). In contrast, DB's 1:30 PP TOI/game this past year was his lowest since his debut as an 18-year-old in 2003-04.
Also, the usually dependable play-driving winger's -1.2 Corsi For % Relative to Team was his first negative in this category since 2009-10.
So your leader who's being paid like a first-liner is performing like a third-liner...
Not that anybody's expecting it, but the captain's unlikely to hit his once-reliable 25-30-55 ever again. And of course, that contract.
However, Brown hasn't shriveled up into a ball of Mike Richards just yet. There's still reason to believe that he can dramatically boost his production over the next year or two. I think 20-20-40 is still attainable (and valuable).
As mentioned, he's still shooting a lot. That's good. He appears to still be skating well. And stop me if you're heard this before about a struggling King, but he probably suffered some bad luck last year.
So what was up with his Corsi then?
Jarret Stoll went from a third to a fourth-line pivot overnight...while still receiving top-nine responsibilities. For my money, that, along with their record-breaking OT/SO failures, were the primary reasons why Los Angeles missed the playoffs.
Brown skated most of his 5v5 minutes in 2014-15 on Stoll's wing. It didn't go well:
I realize that WOWYs are to be taken with a grain of salt because of small sample sizes. But consider this. Since Williams's first full season with the Kings in 2009-10, only three teammates out of 50 qualified (200+ 5v5 mins w/) have dropped Corsi God's puck possession below team standard: Rob Scuderi in 2011-12 and Robyn Regehr and Stoll in 2014-15. In other words, Corsi kryptonite.
Keep in mind too that Brown experienced his toughest % of zone starts this past year:
|5v5 ZSO% Rel|
Dustin, through some fault of his own but also by some design, had been transitioned into a more defensive role. With Williams's impending departure, will he get first crack at additional top-six and power play minutes? It's no coincidence that his production dropped with his playing time:
Will more playing time mean more points? It should.
Stats courtesy of Hockey Analysis, Hockey Reference, NHL.com, Own the Puck, Puckalytics, Sporting Charts, and War on Ice.
While Brown is doing fine work for a third-liner, he's being paid like a first-liner. D is for Dustin.