Leafs’ Brown likely giving up jersey number for Marleau

NHL insider Luke Fox says his biggest takeaway from the Maple Leafs prying of Patrick Marleau away from San Jose, is the fact that the veteran winger thinks he has a better shot at winning the Cup in Toronto.

Though Patrick Marleau will begin 2017-18 in a new club’s jersey for the first time in his NHL career, it appears the veteran will still be able to hold on to a bit of his Californian past.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Connor Brown suggested he’ll give up his No. 12 to Marleau when the latter comes to town, according to Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun.

“It’s a matter of respect,” Brown told Hornby on Friday, skating with a No. 28 on his helmet.

Brown donned No. 12 for the 2016-17 season, suiting up for all 82 games while posting 20 goals and 36 points. Marleau has worn that familiar No. 12 for nearly two decades, switching from his original No. 14 sweater in 2001.

The Aneroid, Sask. native established himself as one of the most consistent snipers in the game in said number. But that doesn’t mean the veteran is going to get his mitts on the coveted digits without offering something up in return.

“We’ll be talking,” Brown told Hornby with a laugh. The 23-year-old restricted free agent wore No. 28 with the Erie Otters during his time in the OHL. However, that swap would mean a change for another Leafs prospect, as Kasperi Kapanen wore No. 28 for the eight games he played in Toronto last season.

Pushing Brown and Kapanen out of their current sweater numbers might not be the only change enacted due to Marleau’s arrival, though. With many assuming the longtime San Jose Shark will suit up alongside Leafs phenom Auston Matthews on the club’s top line, current first-liner Zach Hyman is keeping an open mind about the future lineup.

“Wherever you play, there is enough ice time for everybody,” Hyman told Hornby on Thursday. “It’s good to have this problem, because it means you have a lot of good guys and a lot of depth.

“I played with (Matthews) pretty much every game last year and we had some good chemistry, but whatever happens, happens.”