FLASHBACK: Center of Attention, Derick Brassard
FULLTILT FLASHBACK: From time to time, we at FTR like pull old articles that we feel will have relevance today or in the near future. This was from August 2013, before the start of the 2013-14 season.
“Girardi’s shot found someone in front…BRA-SSARD!!! Four – Nothing!” That was the call by Doc Emrick on April 3rd, 2013. Derick Brassard, just acquired in a deadline blockbuster deal involving Marian Gaborik, netted a power play goal on M.A. Fleury. It was his first as a NY Ranger in a 6-1 drubbing of the Pittsburgh Penguins. His final stats that night was 1 goal and 3 assists in 12:54 of total ice time.
Impressive start or auspicious beginning? Only time will tell but there is no doubt that the organization and the fan base have high expectations for the young center from Hull, Quebec. Brassard was selected 6th overall by Columbus in the 2006 draft. Yes, the same draft the Rangers passed on Claude Giroux in favor of Bobby Sanguinetti. His scouting report hailed him as one of the top playmakers in his draft class (Jonathan Toews was taken 3rd). Positives like great vision, quick and accurate passer with a lethal wrist shot were highlighted. His only knock at the time was size and speed but he is still willing to drive the net. Funny, because all those things happened in his Rangers debut. The hope is this will continue and grow.
So why did Columbus give up on the 25 year old? Let’s first note that he was traded for a superstar goal scorer in Gaborik. However, Derick was quickly fading in Columbus. In his short NHL career he has never played a full season of 82 games. His highest totals came in 2011, where he finished with 17 goals and 47 points.
The following season it got worse. He was benched, often. It was so bad his agent, Allan Walsh made this statement to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch: “The coach has a history of burying players and using them as scapegoats to mask his own lack of success on the ice.” Wow! The coach was Scott Arniel. Yes, the same guy hired as Alain Vigneault’s assistant. While it sure does make for something to watch in the upcoming season, I would not put to much emphasis on it. The dynamic of the relationship has changed, but more importantly the situation.
Derick is a French Canadian kid who played his entire junior career in the QMJHL (aside from a brief stint in the AHL). He comes from a town (Hull) where hockey is religion. There is no doubt in my mind, that playing so many meaningless games in front of small crowds had a toll. The talent has always been there, just ask Rick Nash. “He always had all the tools and the skill. Sometimes guys just need a change and a fresh start; maybe it’s that.” (via Scott Hartnett / CBS) Isn’t it safe to assume that playing in NY for an Original Six team is just what the kid needed? The answer is a resounding yes.
This upcoming season is Brassard’s opportunity to excel and let the NHL know he is everything they expected him to be. He will be deployed in AV’s system as a top 6 forward. He will see plenty of offensive zone opportunities and power play time. The biggest question will be, who are his wingers? Late in the playoffs, he was paired with Chris Kreider and Rick Nash. Flanked by two of the Rangers biggest and talented wingers, they produced the only win against Boston we could muster. Kreider beat Rask in OT, but you got the feeling there’s more where that came from.
The young man from Hull, Quebec is entering his prime years. He is no longer considered a kid and must prove to all of us and himself that this is his time. Can Brassard become a number 1 or 2 center in the NHL for years to come? His playoff performance for the Rangers is proof he can be. Two goals and ten assists in 12 hard fought playoff games is quite the beginning. Now we see if Brass really does shine.