J.T. Brown was expected to have a spot on the Tampa Bay Lightning's roster this season. But after the forward, playing for AHL Syracuse during the NHL lockout, sustained a fractured collarbone on Friday, he will not be ready if the NHL gets going, as many believe it will, in mid January.
"He showed last year that he could hold his own in the NHL, so we have no doubt he could," Lightning assistant general manager Julien BriseBois said Saturday. "But right now he's hurt and the focus is getting him back healthy as quickly as possible."
Brown was injured by a hit during the first period of a 4-2 victory over Norfolk. Syracuse coach Jon Cooper said Brown will be out six to eight weeks.
Cooper also relayed how the injury happened:
"Basically, we were on a power play and we won the draw, went to him and he was skating in the zone. The guy (Norfolk defenseman Mat Clark) engaged on him so he was kind of leaning on J.T., and J.T. was taking the puck behind the net and the guy just rode him awkwardly into the corner. J.T. kind of took an arm off his stick to kind of ward him off and, basically, they went into the boards. The guy put him into the boards hard, but I can't sit here and say it was a dirty play. It happens and it's too bad."
Brown, 22, has six goals, 17 points and four penalty minutes in 26 games for Syracuse. With great speed and vision on the ice and a nose for the net, he had one assist in five games for the Lightning last season after being signed out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
"It's hard for first-year players coming into that league," BriseBois said of the AHL. "It's really a good league and even better this year," because of the NHL lockout. "And on a team that's pretty deep, and where everyone is fighting for ice time, he was able to carve out a niche for himself and pick up some points, so he's been pretty good. He's just progressing really well for a first-year player."