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The curious case of Derick Brassard

Does Brassard's future lie in New York?

Does Brassard’s future lie in New York?

With the Rangers roster facing significant change in the near future, one player’s situation that is a difficult one to predict is Derick Brassard’s. A player of immense natural ability, Brassard started his New York career in brilliant style as a game changing, point per game force last season. His performance left players such as Rick Nash in his shadow during the playoffs.

This season however has been a different story. As he was in Columbus, Brassard has been (until recently) maddeningly inconsistent. His game has been littered with defensive mistakes, careless passing that reminded many of Brad Richards last season, and several times Brassard simply went missing from games. Then there’s the other side of Brassard’s game that excites so many.

Brassard is a great playmaker, with soft hands and vision not often matched by his teammates. In fact, apart from Richards (surely a goner after this season) only Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan have the same level of vision as Brassard. It’s his offensive skills that the Rangers sorely need; especially with a general lack of top end skill on the roster.

Recently, Brassard has once again shown what made him a lottery draft pick (6th overall in 2006) by the Columbus Blue Jackets and showed why, when on his game, he’s a must-keep at season’s end. Prior to the Columbus game the center had nine points in his last nine games and had begun to show some consistency. Brassard has recently been a solid part of the roster as well as being a core member of the powerplay.

The problem is this: With a current salary of $3.2 million, is solid enough? The Rangers, assuming Brassard is looking for a raise this summer, need to see more. On course for 45 points (but just 12 goals) Brassard is on the verge of being overpaid relative to his numbers. As discussed last week, the Rangers have made too many mistakes with the contracts they have handed out recently. The dilemma however is with a weak upcoming free agency, and the likely departure of Brad Richards, are the Rangers having their hand forced when it comes to Brassard?

Brassard – like many of his current teammates – needs to be more productive. With an offensive zone start of over 60% (but a worrying offensive zone finish of less than 50%) Brassard is getting ample opportunity to make plays in the offensive zone, where he should thrive given his skill set. Brassard’s finishing has been poor (a shooting percentage of under 8%), but with less than 16 minutes per game he’s also not getting significant minutes. These are some of the reasons why Brassard is a difficult situation to predict. Would he thrive with even more zone protection and greater minutes?

If Brassard could put together a prolonged stretch of form and help drive the Rangers offense he would be a must keep. His talent and the Rangers pending situation at the center position demand it. With only Derek Stepan as a certainty at center next season the Rangers are crying out for more skill and long term stability at the position. The Rangers will be hoping Brassard forces them to retain his services.

55 Responses to “The curious case of Derick Brassard”

  1. Walt says:

    I’ll defend Brass because until recently, his wings stunk up the place.

    He is an excellent play maker, and needs wings that can close. No wing during this season has taken the bull by the horn, other than the Kreider kid, who has closed the deal. The team is coming together, and now Hags, Zucc, and even Pouliot are scoring, but that hasn’t been the case all season long!

    He is worth keeping, given the need at center, at a reasonable cost.

    • JoeP199 says:

      Sorry, but whoever his wings are, they’re not responsible for his carelessness with the puck. Yes, he has talent, but sometimes he seems to think that he can make any pass he wants, no matter whether there’s someone in the way or not, or that he can hold onto the puck even if he’s being checked closely. He has to get smarter if he wants a big raise.

      • Walt says:

        Joe

        I said at a reasonable cost, I’d keep him. I never said he was great, but the point was, due to the level of play with the wings on his line, he hasn’t been all that bad!!

        Listen, at season’s end, the team will consider all factors, then make a reasonable offer, whatever it is that’s offered??????

  2. RangerSmurf says:

    $3.2 for 45 points is definitely not overpaid.

    Open market price right now is roughly $100k per point. (then adjusted up/down for intangibles/what not)

    • Chris says:

      I tend to agree but he scores in bunches and for a significant cap hit he needs to be consistent. I think he can do it, if the Rangers can add another finishing this summer, given the increasing cap ceiling.

      • Chris A says:

        Chris I hate to disagree with you but you said something in the comment above that really annoys me when I hear it. You ask for Brassard to stop scoring in bunches and be more consistent. What does that mean?

        Do you want him to consistently score in bunches? That would make him a 120 pt/season guy (I’m going to assume “bunches” means 3 points every 2 games)!

        Do you want him to score consistently? Consistent scoring is a point a game, as we all know the number of NHL PPG players is pretty small nowadays.

        If Brassard (or any player the “inconsistent” tag is stamped on) met the standards of those passing judgement on them we would be talking about perennial, no doubt about it, all star caliber players.

        Sorry, didn’t mean to pick on you, it’s just I see this player critique a lot and I feel it’s really unfair and unrealistic.

        • Chris says:

          No worries about disagreeing, that’s what discussion/debate is for… I like Brassard a lot. So I’m not picking on him. I was delighted that we got him from Columbus and think he can really solidify the center position if he delivers.

          By bunches I mean he’ll go grab a couple points then disappear for a few games. That’s not Consistency…
          do I expect a point every game? no. I agree, those players are increasingly rare. Do I expect a player of his talent to be a 55-65 point player? Yes, it’s realistic based on the talent level and positions he’s put in. He needs to do more.

        • RangerSmurf says:

          Agreed. There’s no such thing as a ‘consistent’ 40 point scorer. They all score in bunches and then have droughts. Brassard’s looks worse than, say, Hagelin, because of the non-point production skills.

          This isn’t points, it’s focused on goals, but shows there’s not a lot of consistency in 40 goal scorers either:

          http://www.sbnation.com/nhl/2013/11/8/5080430/claude-giroux-drought-evgeni-malkin-nhl-goal-scoring

      • @Centerman21 says:

        Chris, do you think the Rangers would be a cup contender with an elite puck moving defenseman on the every night roster? Like say Keith Yandle who for the right price could probably be had. The Yotes would gladly hand over his contract. Especially with OEL and others emerging as solid defenseman. To answer myself, I personally think they would be an elite team and could contend for a championship with one defenseman that can blast the puck from the point. Even if he were given “sheltered” mins as a situational guy. Like a PP specialist. Now I meant in general. Yandle makes a bit too much to play on the 3rd pair and PP but that type of player. DZ has played with confidence the last 2 games but I personally don’t think he can reach his full potential in NY. A change may be best for both sides. To Phoenix.

    • Bob says:

      3.2 for 12 goals is.

      • The Suit says:

        Look at it another way. Cogliano is a 3rd line c/w for the Ducks. Plays 15m a game. On pace for 25-25. Just signed for $3M per for 4 years.

        • Chris says:

          Great point and Cogliano isn’t the defensive liability Brassard is. He doesn’t need the same protection. I’d like to keep Brassard but not at an inflated cost just because the market is weak.

          • Dave says:

            Market is going to be very interesting to gauge because the cap is supposed to jump 10% or more.

        • RangerSmurf says:

          Counter: Clarkson got paid a billion dollars over a trillion years (roughly) for 30 points.

          I’m just speaking on averages. Bob’s point is right, that cost does fluctuate up for goals, a 20-20-40 guy will generally make more than a 10-30-40 guy.

          But if you’re looking quickly at nothing but points as a basis, $100k per pt is about right.

          Given a RFA discount of 40%, if you wanted to re-sign Brassard for 3 years (which eats one more RFA year), his market value should be around 2.6*45*$100k = $11.7m (2.6 being two full years and one year at 60%)

          Ideally, you get him for considerably less than that (say $9m), because ideally you want positive expected value on the contract, and he doesn’t bring other intangibles (like defense, PK, leadership, what have you) to help insulate his production.

          • Dave says:

            That would be ideal, but his QO puts him over that amount to begin with. They won’t risk not giving him one.

    • Dave says:

      His QO will be $3.2m. Makes me wonder where he values himself and where the Rangers value him.

      Arbitration eligible though. There’s some security there.

      • RangerSmurf says:

        His QO is $3.7m. He’s on a backloaded deal.

        • Dave says:

          Ah yes, forgot about that. They will definitely give him the QO. I’d have to assume he won’t get much more than that.

          • JCA says:

            $3.7 mil is his actual salary. His QO would be $4.07 mil if he was an RFA, but he’s not. Though under 27, he’s played in the NHL for 7+ years making him a UFA this summer. If he decides to test the market I can see his salary coming out somewhere between Bozak’s $4.2 and Ribiero’s $5.5.

            • RangerSmurf says:

              There’s no 10% increase on the QO if you’re over $1m in base salary.

              On the latter, capgeek has him as a RFA, reaching out to see why that is.

              • Dave says:

                Did it change with the new CBA?

              • RangerSmurf says:

                It didn’t change with the CBA, but got clarification from some helpful NYR fans and @capgeek confirmed the info.

                Brassard’s 1st season didn’t count towards UFA status because he didn’t spend 40 games on the roster. So while his ELC didn’t slide, his FA accrual years did.

                Thus, this is only his 6th accrued season, and thus he is still a RFA.

              • Dave says:

                Interesting. Makes sense though. Good for the Rangers.

  3. Mikeyyy says:

    Playmakers need finishers. And I can count the number of finishers on this team with 3 fingers. This srason

  4. AD says:

    In a year where the whole team has been inconsistent, including the coach, I would reserve judgement, overall, until end of season. There has been great instability the first half of the season; the entire team needs to just settle in, and settle down. We are starting to signs of that.

  5. Rob L says:

    A few things here:

    1) While I agree with your general logic when pointing out Zone Finishes, in the end it can be dubious. This is because Brassard has mostly been a positive Corsi player his whole life (a solid one at that, this season). So yes, while his zone finish is lower than one would like, if he/his line out Corsi’s a team 8-2 by spending the first 40 of 60 seconds in the offensive zone, it’s still a good shift.

    2) Last season: he was having an OK to good year in Columbus and just got hot when he put the NYR uniform on by shooting 20% in 13 games. That wasn’t going to last.

    3) This season: brutal PDO (949) that’s more made up of his linemates not finishing (5.64 shot% 5on5 onice) and the bad-timing 5on5 goaltending behind him (0.892 save%) rather than his 7.3% shooting (which is basically only 2 points below his career of 10%, which is solid).

    Overall, I say keep-keep-keep all the way home. He’s 26 with a great pedigree (1.44 PPG in the Q) as you alluded to. He’s got skill that the PP always needs. Even if his PDO (aka scoring) doesn’t turn around, that means NYR could stand firm in contract talks and possibly get him to take around $3 instead of anything more. We’ll see, I guess.

    • Dave says:

      Good points, but I think Chris was alluding to the fact that his QO is above perceived market value.

  6. Chris F says:

    With Richards getting bought out, I’d move Brassard to a consistent place as C on 2nd line behind Kreider-Stepan-Nash.

    Give Brassard Hagelin on his left and pick up a 2nd line finishing RW to compliment him.

    Then put Zuccarello and Callahan on 3rd line with a nr

  7. SalMerc says:

    I think we can’t afford to keep both Boyle and Brassard. As much as I despise Boyle, I like him on the team (for his defensive ability) more than Brassard.

    • Chris A says:

      I love Boyle, but there is no way he can be a Ranger next year unless he’s willing to forego the big raise he can get on the open market.

      Over $2M a season for a F with no offensive presence is a tough pill to swallow.

      • pavel says:

        Are there teams on the open market willing to pay $2M+ for Boyle?
        Speaking of which, what are his competitors, forwards who are great at defense, face-offs, and PK, but just can’t really score?

      • Dave says:

        Boyle won’t get much more of a raise than what he’s at now. Assume a 5% or 10% bump. He’s right around market value. I’m using the Matt Hendricks contract as current comparable.

        • Chris A says:

          Pavel: I think in the open market anything can happen. It only takes one GM to decide he HAS to have Boyle for the next three years and then BB is signing a 3 year deal for $7M. I am not saying it will happen, but I would expect it to. There is always one GM willing to overpay for a UFA

          Dave: I thought the same thing about Prust, that he wouldn’t get more than a 50% increase on the UFA market. Then MTL decided to give him $2.5M/season a raise of over 300%!

          • Dave says:

            Well that was a one off case. Boyle already has market value established in Hendricks.

        • Spozo says:

          You don’t think he could get a Brandon Prust contract in free agency?

          • pavel says:

            I think Prust is seen as a guy who makes his teammates better. He’s an inspiring, bleeding, playing hurt leader, who brings more to the table than his skill set and size would indicate.

            Boyle, who I think is a very good 4th liner, is just what he is. If anything, his size and draft status would always lead to perception of underachieving.
            I don’t think he’d get Prust like money.

  8. JCA says:

    His actual salary for this season is $3.7 million. 3.2 is the contract average over 4 yrs used to calculate the cap hit. Assuming he wants a 10% raise, that brings him to $4.07 million to re-sign. I don’t think that’s too unreasonable, but with the salary cap taking a big leap there are going to be a lot of ridiculous contracts handed out this summer.

  9. NY to NC says:

    I don’t like the guy and the same can be said of any center the Rangers have. He doesn’t know what it’s like or takes to win. Stepan also bugs the crap out of me – terrible faceoff win % (44% worst on team), skates like he has a load in his pants, and has no shot. I’d only keep the 4th line centers (Moore/Boyle) and dump the rest to start over again. What difference will it make? This team is a long, long way from competing at a high level so they should get a bunch of young picks at the trade deadline and prepare for 2017.

  10. PopsTwitTar says:

    Seems to me he’s getting (and probably would get) dollars due to a guy who gets 2nd/3rd line minutes, and produces 2nd/3rd line points. Unless you can find a cheaper guy to give you that production at a much cheaper price, Brassard seems to be a good candidate for another contract. I dont know the NYR farm well enough to say they have that potential replacement.

  11. Frank Cerbone says:

    Sather blew it by not trading for Cogliano who was moved for a #2 by Edmonton. Extending his contract at $3 mil per is a total act of being an unselfish team player.

    Ranger will now that Cogliano is gone & have to move to plan B-signing Moulson as an UFA. He never gets hurt & good for 0 goals per season.

    David Savard (RFA) , Tom Gilbert (UFA)are right handed options on defense in the offseason

    • Dave says:

      The price for Cogliano at the time was Dubinsky. No one wanted to do the deal. Hindsight is 20/20.

    • Kevin says:

      Yes, Cogliano was the missing piece for three years now…if only Sather jumped at picking up a 3rd line center?

  12. Lou says:

    Hey folkes, the discussion here is about Brassard – not Prust, Dubi or Boyle.
    And for all of you that loves statistics, zone time, puck possession, tmz, etc., bottom line (if you ever played the game you would know this) would you go to war with this guy?   Would you trust him to watch your back in a fight?  Take a brutal check to get the puck out of the zone?  Jump in when you are getting mugged?
    Can anyone answer yes to any of these with Brassard?  Sure he can pass beautifully…skate like a swan…even flip pancakes while combing his hair…but he should be playing in europe.  He is Zherdev all over again – a tone of talent and no balls.
    Now, if he were the only one on the team like that, he could survive and be protected by everyone else.  But on the Rangers, with Pouliot, MDZ, Hags, Strallman, Stepan — he’s just a boy playing a man’s game.  on those nights he’s not intimidated he looks all-world.  Next day he looks like a college player cause he gets scared to go in the corners.
    Cant win with players like that on a team with too many softies.
    Disagree?  He’s proof:  When the Rangers made it to the finals couple of years ago was it their overwhelming talent?  No, it was their collective toughness and battle hardened approach.
    More proof?  Guess which is the current team nobody wants to face?  Philly — and surprise…there is Craig freakin Berube as coach (no brains, no experience, but if a players doesnt go balls out, they gotta fight the coach after the game).
    So friends…put you calculators down!  Put aside your so-called stats.  Lay down the pen and really watch the greatest game on earth – a true MAN’S sport.  Where determination, grit, self-confidence and pride overshadow mere talent!

    • PopsTwitTar says:

      “And for all of you that loves statistics, zone time, puck possession, tmz, etc., bottom line (if you ever played the game you would know this) would you go to war with this guy?   Would you trust him to watch your back in a fight?  Take a brutal check to get the puck out of the zone?  Jump in when you are getting mugged?”
      Gretzky would fail this test.
      You can

      • Walt says:

        Yeah, but he had McSorley, or Samenko to protect him, did you forget???????

      • Kevin says:

        As would that bleeding heart Ovechkin and Stamkos and Toews and Kane and Crosby and Malkin and Hall and

    • Dave says:

      I really get that you want some more grit on this team. Seriously. I do.

      You know what team has a lot of grit? The Leafs.
      You know who isn’t making the playoffs this year? The Leafs.
      You know who can’t control the puck at all? The Leafs.

    • Kevin says:

      Yeah, these guys who track zone entries and exits need to stop watching the game and watch the game

    • Kevin says:

      Also, I played the game and the last time I checked scoring goals is better than not scoring goals. Oddly, my coaches never said that we needed to punch more people to win hockey game. Or was that cricket? I can never be sure

    • Chris A says:

      Who doesn’t want to face the Flyers?  With their Swiss Cheese Goalies and Collection of Pylons (convenient that they are wearing orange already) for D Men they pose a challenge to no one. 
      Lou there was a time and place for the style of play you are talking about, those days are long gone though.  The only team that plays like that and succeeds is Boston.  And to be honest, if the league had some balls they would have reined in Lucic and Co. and their filthy tactics awhile ago rendering them impotent. 
      This is a league built on speed and goaltending now.  Grinders, goons, crease clearing D, these are all dinosaurs from a bygone era whether you like it or not.

  13. KC says:

    Brassard and Stepan are both worthless that’s why it time for a major overhaul.