Derick Brassard has been traded to the Ottawa Senators along with a 2018 7th round draft pick for Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 2nd round pick. After the draft and free agency period began, there was much speculation of a potential Stepan, Nash, Girardi or Staal move looming. However, I’m pretty sure no one expected a Brassard move was the one that’d come to fruition.
Brassard has been a staple in the core of the Rangers lineup for the past four seasons, registering 69 goals to go along with 105 assists in 254 games. Brass had quickly become a fan favorite and was loved by the entire Rangers organization. Moving Brassard left us fans speechless, and many of us are still shell-shocked. However, closer evaluation of the trade may have some thinking the deal was actually beneficial for the Blueshirts. I will admit though, you’ll have to leave your loyalty and love for Brassard on the back burner in order to stomach this article.
Right off the bat, it’s easy to assess that Zibanejad and Brassard are very similar players. They are both top-six centers who have the ability to score goals and make plays. They are also both effective on the power-play. Zibanejad registered 21 goals and 30 assists in 81 games last season and was a force on the Sens’ power-play. In fact, overall, Zibanejad may be an more effective player than Brassard. Check out table below and compare the two players stats from last season:
In evaluating their differences, the first thing that jumps out is their age. Zibanejad, at 23 years old, is a full five-and-a-half years younger than Brassard and is on an upswing in his career. Another significant difference is the players’ respective contracts. Brassard currently has a $5 million dollar cap hit per season with three years remaining, while Zibanejad holds a $2.625 million dollar cap hit and becomes an RFA come next season. This contract swap does two things: First, it allows the Rangers to save same cap space in order to be able to sign other players in the future (Kreider and maybe Vesey anyone?) while also acquiring a skilled forward who can also help this team win now. Secondly, it gives the Rangers better options come contract negotiation time. With Brassard, we were locked into a deal with no escape, while with Zibanejad we have the option to either trade him at the deadline if things are working out, sign him to a bridge or long-term contract, or let him walk for future draft picks. Zibanejad gives us a quality goal scoring, playmaking center who can run a power-play, while simultaneously opening up the team’s options for the future.
Don’t forget that the Rangers, who have traded away most of their future draft picks, have also acquired a 2nd round pick from Ottawa in exchange for our 7th round pick in the 2018 draft. Gorton’s ability to upgrade our draft pick in this deal is also a savvy move by the new comer GM that should pay dividends for our future outlook.
Although I loved Brassard, realistically this was a good move by the NYR. Making a team stronger and giving them a better chance to win while also maneuvering to become better situated economically is exactly the type of move a good GM makes. With the hand that Jeff Gorton was dealt by Glen Sather (Slats), this marks another move that makes complete sense. I expect that there may be more moves brewing in the background this offseason but only time will tell. Stay tuned for any more Rangers news to follow.
Thanks for giving us your heart and soul every night Derick.
Gotham welcomes you Mika.
P.S. The guy also has great hair as an added bonus.
As always, leave your comments below on what you think of the deal and we’ll be sure to get back to you.
LGR (87 days til the Opener!)