Player grades: Derick Brassard

Regular Season (OTT):  58 GP, 18 G, 20 A, 38 PTS

Regular Season (PIT): 14 GP, 3 G, 5 A, 8 PTS

Playoffs (PIT): 12 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS

Defining Moment:

Feb 23rd, 2018

The defining moment for Derick Brassard in the 2018 season is easily the trade that sent him from the Ottawa Senators to the Pittsburgh Penguins days before the trade deadline. The move saw a talented center move from a struggling bottom-feeder to maybe the Stanley Cup favorite.

At the time of the deal, the trade was pegged as a huge power shift in the Eastern Conference as the defending champions were adding another top six center to play behind two of the best in the entire league.

Ultimately, the trade ended up with more hype than actual impact. The Penguins and Brassard struggled through a feeling out process that was interrupted by a serious groin injury to the center, making it impossible to gain familiarity with the new system and new role Brassard was to play in.

Player Grade: C

While Brassard’s tenure so far in Pittsburgh has been mostly disappointing, he didn’t have that bad of a year. Overall, he ended up with 46 points in less than a full season which is a good number for the role he plays.

He’s shown his ability to break out offensively as the number one center on the Rangers where he set a career high of 60 points just three seasons ago. But his situation in Ottawa – on a bad team playing a defensive system – made it much harder to accumulate anything on the scoreboard.  Then Brassard was dropped into an entirely different situation and only given 14 games to prove himself – not ideal.

His playoff production was very disappointing. He was dropped to the fourth line at times and was averaging a very small amount of ice time. In the ice he did get, he was not very noticeable. While there should be no excuses, Brassard has a lot of legitimate reasons to explain his poor play.

Brassard’s injury was deemed “very serious” by Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford. Playing through that, as well as still adjusting to his new team, was a really unfortunate mix that derailed Derick’s season.

Role for Next Season: 3rd Line Center

Will he be traded?

He obviously still has a lot of value and maybe the Penguins would move him because they are worried his post-season was an indication he has a lack of fit for this team. It’s a possibility but I don’t see it happening. For the many reasons listed above, he really deserves a clean slate. With an entire offseason already familiar with the organization, Brassard will come into training camp with a much better chance of being an impact player for the Penguins.

Will he be moved to a wing?

The Penguins are pretty thin on the left side but it doesn’t make any sense to attack a strength to address a weakness. Brassard is a center, and if he plays to his capabilities, he’s probably the best 3rd line center on any roster in the NHL. Wingers are the cheapest commodity in the NHL. The Penguins can’t afford to give up the assets they did for Brassard to play the role a cheap free agent could.

So where does he play?

The Penguins went out of their way to add Brassard to play one role only: 3rd line center. One disappointing month of hockey shouldn’t change their idea of what they expect from him.

Look for Brassard to challenge his own career highs in the 2018-2019 season. Surrounded by a talented roster, in an up-tempo system, with a sense of continuity with the guys around him, number 19 is poised to breakout offensively and justify the block-buster trade once and for all.

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