If Derick Brassard hit free agency a year ago, odds are he wouldn’t have had to wait a week for a contract. One bad season, especially one leading into free agency, can really alter someone’s value. Brassard, who started his nightmare season in Pittsburgh before ending up in Florida and finally Colorado, is feeling the effects of a tough 2018-19 campaign.
The veteran center, best known for his days in New York and Ottawa, still remains unsigned a week after the open of free agency. The Edmonton Oilers, first reported by TSN 1260’s Jason Gregor, have interest in the veteran pivot. Bob Stauffer of 630 CHED elaborated on that interest Sunday night.
Between the three teams, Brassard played 70 games and scored just 23 points (14-9-23). His 23 points represented a career-worst mark. Prior to that, Brassard was a consistent 40 point producer. He finished 2017-18 with 46 points (21-25-46) in 72 games split between Ottawa and Pittsburgh.
In 2016-17, Brassard had 39 points for the Senators, down from seasons of 60 (2014-15) and 58 (2015-16) points with the Rangers. His offense was always consistent prior to this season. He wasn’t a top line forward, but Brassard was a consistent middle-six presence for both New York and Ottawa.
What Went Wrong?:
Brassard never really fit with the Penguins. Cast into a third line center role, Brassard never really got comfortable. He had a revolving door of linemates and never really received any powerplay time. Brassard, due to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin playing on the top two lines, started only 41.6% of his shifts with the Pens in the offensive zone. For a player of his skills, that’s not favorable.
Brassard was miscast as a shutdown center, a role he struggled with. His game is an offensive one, where he provides skill at both five-on-five and on the powerplay in a secondary role. He never got that chance with the Penguins.
His trade to Florida never presented that opportunity either. Brassard played only ten games for Florida, who always intended to flip him at the deadline. They did, shipping him to the Avalanche. Brassard played in 20 games for the Avs in the regular season, scoring four goals.
It was a whirlwind season that saw both Brassard’s possession and scoring numbers tumble. At 31-years-old, it is possible the veteran experienced a sharp decline and is done as a valuable player. More likely, he suffered a down season and is primed to rebound in 2018-19.
The Fit With Edmonton:
Outside of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers have questions. Those three are their proven top-six forward options. Other than that? The Oil will enter 2019-20 with more questions than answers in the top-six.
Brassard isn’t a perfect fit, but as Stauffer alluded to he can play on the wing if needed. A natural center, Brassard could be a nice fit as the third line center with Sam Gagner on his right and perhaps Tyler Benson on his left. That line is a strong candidate to be a quality depth scoring line.
Brassard, at this point, is likely to take a short-term contract. That benefits the Oil, as Brassard could take less money to try and rebound and cash in next summer after a stronger campaign.
This is a player that would add both speed and skill to Edmonton’s forward group. You don’t need me to remind you, but those are major holes for Edmonton. Brassard could fill Edmonton’s gapping hole at 3C, but could also slide onto the second line as a left winger.
He brings skill to the table, won’t cost the moon and won’t require term. Brassard is the kind of bargain free agent that could really help this club in 2019-20. Signing him won’t make the Oilers a playoff team, they need a lot more than just one player. That said, he’d certainly help make them more competitive in 2019-20.