In February the Pittsburgh Penguins made one of the most complicated and unique trades in the history of the NHL salary cap era when they acquired Derick Brassard. To recap, here’s what went where in the three team deal:
Penguins receive: Derick Brassard, Tobias Lindberg, Vincent Dunn, 2018 third-round pick
Senators receive: Filip Gustavsson, Ian Cole, 2018 first-round pick, 2019 third-round pick
Golden Knights receive: Ryan Reaves, 2018 fourth-round pick
The Golden Knights also retained $2.0 million of Brassard’s $5.0 million salary cap hit, which will continue for the 2018-19 season.
To get Brassard, who Pittsburgh will use as a “3rd line” center- despite the fact he regularly scores 45-60 points the past five seasons, the Pens gave up: a 2018 first rounder (ended up 22nd overall), a 2018 4th rounder, a 2019 3rd rounder, goalie prospect Filip Gustavsson and impending free agent Ian Cole. And also enforcer Ryan Reaves, whom they probably wouldn’t have played in the playoffs anyways.
After the 2018 draft, and especially how the draft played out, this deal is looking increasingly favorable for Pittsburgh.
The key is in the draft picks. Ottawa actually made a draft night trade to get out of 22nd overall to move down a few picks. Their bounty at 26th overall was defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker.
The Penguins used the 63rd overall pick they got from the Senators with another latter pick to move up to 58th overall to select Swedish forward Filip Hallander.
Due to the variability of NHL draft and trying to scout and project what hockey players at 17-18 years old will eventually grow into, there’s basically no difference today on draft weekend between the prospect value of Bernard-Docker and Hallander. This switch of picks, especially the flashy “Ottawa gets a FIRST ROUND PICK” always turns heads, however now that the draft is over did Ottawa truly get that much better of a prospect in the exchange of picks?
Thanks to the zaniness of the NHL draft and unpredictability of young hockey players the answer is yet uncertain.
TSN’S Bob McKenzie’s consensus of scouts had Bernard-Docker the 46th best prospect. Hallander was 58th. Similarly, Future Considerations final rankings had Bernard-Decker 32nd and Hallander 45th. A slight edge, but for the massive sounding “Sens get Pittsburgh’s 1st round pick” that’s really not too huge of a talent discrepancy, according to those two sources, anyways.
And then we get to the fun part- some scouting liked the Pens latter pick better than Ottawa’s first rounder. Habs Eye on the Prize considered Hallander the 32nd best prospect in the whole draft, Bernard-Docker was but the 33rd best North American skater to their scouting rankings.
The Sporting News was even more extreme, they had the Pens pick Hallander ranked 36th, and Ottawa’s first rounder Bernard-Decker was 86th!
Yes, other pieces were involved. The Sens got Gustavsson who is a top prospect. But top prospects (especially among young goalies) are not sure things to develop into NHL players. The Sens get a 3rd round pick next year from Pittsburgh, plus they were able to trade Cole for a 3rd round pick. They got a few more draft chips which may or may not prove to be something one day, and certainly gives them a bit more value out of the trade.
The Penguins got the best player in the deal in Brassard who was on a six game point streak prior to a groin injury that derailed his playoff. He’s also under contract for next season and Pittsburgh got Vegas to retain 40% of his salary. But for the primary exchange of draft picks, the Pens arguably suffered no consequence to move from 22nd overall to 63rd overall.
Ottawa’s hope is that their extra draft picks pay off and somewhere down the line they develop a good player or two out of the mix. Pittsburgh’s end of the bargain looks a lot rosier having Brassard plus converting the Ottawa 3rd rounder into a solid prospect.
As it stands and given how the draft played out, yesterday was another prime example that the difference between having a pick in the mid-20 to mid 50 range isn’t that big. Depending on team or scouting service, one person’s 30th best prospect is another’s 60th player, and vice versa. In that regard, getting a 3rd rounder back from Ottawa for Brassard was a great play by the Pens, and it looks all the better after what seems like a favorable draft.