Archive for Derick Brassard
The Rangers made their first, and possibly only, big move yesterday, shipping Derick Brassard and a 2018 7th round pick to Ottawa for Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 2nd round pick. The move saves the Rangers $2.35 million in cap space while getting arguably equal –with the distinct possibility of it evolving into better– production while also getting younger. They also nabbed a second round pick as well. All in all, it was a solid trade for Jeff Gorton, adding to his already solid offseason. Here are my thoughts on the trade.
1 – First things first, it stinks to see Brassard go. But if any of the centers were to go, he was the only logical choice. Brass was the best trade chip for the Rangers, as Gorton cashed in on what is likely a depreciating asset. It was highly unlikely he was going to score 27 goals again next year, as he needed a whopping 15% shooting percentage to get to that. It was the first and only time Brass had ever cracked 20 goals, and at 29 years old when the season starts, he’s already peaked. Zibanejad already has a pair of 20-goal seasons at just 23 years old. Both Brassard and Zibanejad will put up 50 points next year. I’ll take the cap savings any day.
The Rangers have acquired forward Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 2nd round pick from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Derick Brassard and a 2018 7th round pick. Zibanejad, 23, put up a line of 21-30-51 last year for the Sens, following up his impressive 20-26-46 rookie campaign. He has one year left at $2.65 million on his current deal.
Brassard, 28, is coming off a career high in goals with 27 last season, and has put up 60 points the last two seasons with the Rangers. Brassard has three years left at $5 million per season.
We keep talking about how the Rangers are poised to make an array of moves to shake up both the roster and the organisation as a whole, but aside from signing Pavel Buchnevich (hurrah!) the team have been silent thus far. That may be because they aren’t done assessing the current situation yet; time will tell.
The Rangers are obviously going to need to reshape their defense – if they can – but perhaps the biggest decision they may have to make may be which center they have to deal. The Rangers don’t just need to shift cap space but they need to acquire assets and the Rangers best chance of a quality return – without negatively impacting any one specific position – may be moving one of their centers. It’s the position where the Rangers are deepest.
Ever since the ball dropped that the Rangers are fielding offers on everyone not named Brady Skjei, Pavel Buchnevich, or Henrik Lundqvist, the focus has been on trading names like Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, and Ryan McDonagh (Marc Staal/Dan Girardi notwithstanding). But when it comes to Stepan, very few bring up Derick Brassard, who may actually be the best chip for the Rangers.
When comparing Stepan to Brassard, most Rangers fans think this is either a toss up or lean Brassard. It’s a valid argument, as Brassard is putting up comparable offensive numbers to Stepan and is on a cheaper deal. With the Rangers crunched for cap space, trading Stepan seems like the way to lean if they decide to trade one of their top two centers.
But is that truly the smartest approach?
It’s never fun enduring a long offseason while fans of other clubs get to enjoy a playoff run. This may sound a little spoiled to fans of teams like Edmonton and Calgary, but over the last decade, Rangers fans have been treated to a consistent expectation of contention. Since the Rangers have been eliminated, I have read a lot of great analysis about the importance of this offseason and potential directions for the club to go.
It’s going to be very difficult to handicap the exact moves from an analysis standpoint and hey, that’s up to you guys and gals anyway (shameless plug for the Off-season Plan Contest). I have kind of a conceptual thought-dump I wanted to share about this coming offseason and to see how you are felt about some of these things…
One of the major complaints some fans have about the Rangers is that they “lack a number one center.” Pat debunked that yesterday, citing that the Rangers, in fact, have a pair of top line centers in Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard. The pair of them give the Rangers great flexibility and matchup advantages, as no team can focus on just one of them.
That extends down the lineup, as the Rangers are able to keep Kevin Hayes sheltered as the third line center. On most teams, Hayes would be a second line center based on his even strength production (remember that he gets no powerplay time on a team this deep, which affects his overall numbers). Keeping him on the third line presents the opportunity for mismatches, as few teams have the depth to handle three top-six centers.
Every once in a while, the idea that the Rangers don’t truly have a #1 centerman pops up in Rangers discourse and I wanted to unpack this idea for a couple of reasons. First, it implies that neither Derek Stepan nor Derick Brassard is a true 1C, and second it undersells what is otherwise actually one of the Rangers’ major strengths: their center depth.
Both players have similar styles of play, functioning primarily to set up scoring opportunities for guys like Rick Nash, Chris Kreider, or Mats Zuccarello. While Brassard is perhaps a little bit flashier, making slick, highlight reel passes with favored scoring partner Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan is no less proficient at distributing the puck. Defensively they play similar games as well, with each center being positionally responsible and adept at providing puck support down the middle.
The Caps are making most of the headlines (and justifiably so) while the Bruins, Lightning and the Islanders are all streaking at the right time of the season but, despite their inadequacies on the blueline and on special teams, there is no team in the East that the Rangers should fear as playoff season approaches – thanks to their depth at center.
The team’s center ‘situation’ however figures to change significantly over the short term almost regardless of how successful this year’s edition end up being. Against the Kings two summers ago, the Rangers were dominated at center and that difference up the middle left an undeniable imprint on the organisation and the acquisition of Eric Staal will have certainly been influenced by the organisation’s desire to control center ice, as well as find the ideal running mate for the team’s one elite forward, Rick Nash.
With that said, the Rangers’ situation at center promises to get serious scrutiny over the summer. Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard (barring abysmal – but unlikely – finishes to their respective seasons) are locked in for the immediate future but with JT Miller, Kevin Hayes, Oscar Lindberg, Dominic Moore and Staal on the roster, the Rangers have seven players who can play center on the current roster alone.
Over the past week or so, members of the mainstream media just cannot get enough of the “Eric Staal to the Rangers” rumors. To be honest, it’s gotten a bit out of control. These rumors seem to neglect a number of factors that make this type of trade improbably, but hey, anything can happen, right? Let’s take a look at some of the basics and see how hard we have to squint to see a legitimate fit here.
First, on Staal’s contract. He is in the final year of his seven year/$57.75 million contract he signed back in 2009. Staal’s cap hit is $8.5 million ($9.5m actual salary) and he will play this year finishing out his age 31 season. If Staal was to be traded for on deadline day, his remaining cap hit would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.92m. The Rangers are believed to have about $4.83 million of cap space on deadline day.
The Rangers have been up and down pretty frequently this season, but lately they’ve been up. The team has won 6 of their last 8 games, dating back to January 25th against Buffalo, despite missing Rick Nash for around a month now and Ryan McDonagh since the game against Philadelphia in which he sustained a concussion. Suffice to say the Rangers are persevering, finding ways to win and making a case for themselves as one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.
As always this is a multifaceted phenomenon, with Lundqvist’s goaltending, JT Miller’s offensive production, and Keith Yandle’s overall form being major factors, but one of the things that’s flown under the radar lately has been the one-two punch of their top centermen, Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan.