‘Big Game Brass’ is headed to the ‘City of bridges’.
Pending league review, the Ottawa Senators dealt centre Derick Brassard to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 2018 first round pick, goaltending prospect Filip Gustavsson and defenceman Ian Cole.
At this time, it’s not known what the hold up on an official announcement is, but apparently the deal is more complex than it’s being made out to be.
Brassard is in the second last year of a contract that pays him $3.5 million in real dollars, but carries an average annual value of $5.0 million. The centre’s production in Ottawa has never really corresponded with how well his underlying possessions metrics have stacked up, but Brassard was an effective second line centre who will be remembered for two things: 1) his contributions during last year’s run to the Eastern Conference Final; and 2) Pierre Dorion’s boasts that Brassard was the Senators’ best forward by the metrics used by the team’s analytical department (note: in any world where Mark Stone exists, this is just wrong).
In 139 regular season games for the Senators, Brassard tallied 32 goals and 77 points, but during the playoffs last season, he added four goals and 11 points in 19 games.
In looking at the Senators’ roster, Brassard was one of the most cost-efficient players on the team given that he was in the latter stages of a front-loaded contract, so he was widely viewed as a coveted asset who could help a lot of teams and bring in a substantial return.
Did the Senators do that however?
They will certainly sell it that way.
Ian Cole is simply a salary dump by Pittsburgh to make room for Brassard’s cap hit.
The organization will probably play up the inclusion of a 2018 first rounder to soothe the pains from shipping their 2018 or 2019 first round pick to the Colorado Avalanche in the Matt Duchene trade. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh’s 2018 pick will assuredly be a late first rounder in what’s being panned as an average draft class.
The 19-year old Filip Gustavsson seems like a promising goaltending prospect. The 2016 second round pick (55th overall) plays for Luleå HF in the SHL where in 18 appearances, he has an 8-9-0 record with two shutouts, a 2.17 goals against average and a save percentage of .917. At this year’s U20 World Junior Championship where he represented the silver medal winning Swedes, he was not only named to the tournament All-Star team, but he was also recognized as the tournament’s best goaltender.
Unfortunately, that distinction does not portend future NHL success:
At the very least, his presence strengthens the Senators’ depth at the goaltending position where players like Marcus Hogberg and Chris Driedger have struggled to establish themselves. By stockpiling more goaltending prospects, it hopefully increases the likelihood that someone can pan out and become an NHL number one, but the unfortunate reality of the position is that it seems like the attrition rate on goaltending prospects is quite high.
There is no doubt that the assets acquired in this deal will be used to improve this team’s depth — whether these assets remain with the organization or are later used as trade chips — but the reality of the situation is that risk in this deal, it’s that neither of these assets are sure things that will make this team significantly better any time soon.
To make the most of this deal, the Senators are going to have to rely heavily on amateur scouting and player development, and when the owner came out last December and publicly acknowledged that the organization has cut back in these areas of the organization, it may lengthen the odds of this deal working out in the Senators’ favour.