Three years ago, Derick Brassard scored 21 goals during the regular season, split between the Ottawa Senators and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Then Brassard found himself struggling the following year. He couldn’t make his mark in his first full season in Pittsburgh and found himself traded to Florida where he struggled even more and then included into a trade deadline to deal to Colorado.
For a short while, it almost looked as if Brassard’s career as a productive middle-six player was at an end in the NHL … until he signed up with the New York Islanders. Brassard proved to be a solid fit in Barry Trotz’ system, posting 10 goals and 32 points in 66 games and another eight points during the playoffs, fitting in throughout the Islanders’ lineup. While those numbers don’t jump off the page, the 33-year-old provided much-needed depth on the team and could provide that almost anywhere.
Of course, Brassard was initially brought in to New York to replace departed center Valtteri Filppula, who left for Detroit. However, Brassard rarely even played the center position as he struggled with the defensive angle of that position and settled in as a fill-in-the-gap forward instead, something the team surely has considered when it comes to bringing him back.
The Islanders would make the most sense as the team still has moves it must make while it waits to get star restricted free agent Mathew Barzal signed. However, with limited cap space, will the Islanders opt to bring back Brassard? The Islanders could go a cheaper route as they have a number of young AHL players that could be ready to break onto the team, including Oliver Wahlstrom, Otto Koivula and Kieffer Bellows. However, it might be best to have a veteran on hand just in case that the three aren’t ready to step in on an everyday basis.
There have been reports that Brassard has received interest overseas, but the veteran has indicated he would rather stay in the NHL if he can garner a contract.
Another team that could come calling as the season approaches could be his former team, the New York Rangers. Brassard, who put up his best numbers of his career with the Rangers, might prove to be a useful piece to the short-term puzzle. The Rangers could use some bottom-six depth, especially at center and Brassard could fill that void for a year.
Brassard didn’t sign until August last season, suggesting that he is willing to wait for a team that wants to look at what it has before grabbing him. That is likely to happen again as the forward will have to wait for the remaining free agents to sign before he gets signed. No matter what, Brassard is more likely to ink another short-term deal, one or two years at most, likely for no more than $1MM. Asking for more with so many teams capped out seems unlikely.
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