What began as another year down on the farm quickly turned into a first for the Blackhawks’ Troy Brouwer last season: an extended stay at the NHL level. While Brouwer didn’t show himself to be the power forward with the Midas scoring touch as he had in the AHL, he did prove himself capable of making valuable contributions.
During a season in which Brouwer became most known for blowing premier scoring opportunities, he quietly put together a very responsible campaign, becoming something of a jack-of-all-trades for the Hawks. To be sure, Brouwer was asked to do just about everything, a stark contrast from the Denis Savard days, when he was given little opportunity to stick with the big league club – much less time to experiment with roles.
It took a while for Brouwer to get his sea legs, though. Many nights Brouwer was invisible – too slow to skate with top line mates and lacking the savvy to create his own opportunities. He would find his way, though, using his big frame and hockey sense, often taking the body in highlight reel fashion once an evening, sticking up for a line mate or doing the dirty work in the corners. And, it was this willingness to be something other than a 40-goal scorer that earned him a spot in the playoff lineup as a fourth line grinder, a role he became accustomed to late in the regular season.
Troy Brouwer’s 2009-’10 season will be a success if…
He, well, plays. As is usually the case with forwards who scored ten goals the previous season, Brouwer’s spot in the lineup is anything but guaranteed. The Marian Hossa surgery will help his cause until December, and perhaps his intangibles can take him the rest of the way. Brouwer has shown, if nothing else, he can be an effective player in any role.
He gets significant time on the power play. Often times, for a young NHL forward, half the battle is getting chances, and Brouwer certainly did that last season. Of course, his problem was cashing in. Given the opportunity, the Feather believes Brouwer could have something of a breakout offensive season, assuming he can find the scoring touch he flaunted at the AHL level. We had this to say about Brouwer in Fantasy Hockey Scout’s Blogger’s Breakouts feature in July, where we pegged him as a possible 20-goal scorer this coming season:
Brouwer, 23, is a big man – 6’3” and 215 pounds – and figures to be a regular in the stocked Blackhawks’ line-up during the upcoming season. His 2009 playoff action came as a “banger” on the fourth line with Ben Eager and Adam Burish, but he played the majority of the regular season on scoring lines. He’s best known by Hawk fans as the big winger who blew upwards of 40 scoring chances last season – often by clanging would-be goals off a post behind the goaltender. Depending on who he calls “linemates” during the 2009-10 season, Brouwer could well find the scoring touch he’s displayed previously in the WHL and AHL. Indeed, as many young scorers’ first major stepping stone is getting chances, it could be said that Brouwer took a major step towards becoming a solid second-tier NHL scorer last season.
Troy Brouwer’s 2009-’10 season will be a disappointment if…
He becomes unwilling to do the dirty work. Being a goal scorer in the NHL as a 23-year old isn’t easy; just don’t ask Jonathan Toews. Being a big time goal scorer as a second year player (which Brouwer will be this season) isn’t a whole lot easier. Brouwer will have to continue to make his mark mucking and grinding, no matter who his linemates are. The goals, as they say, will come.