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2018-19 Penguins’ Season in Review: Derick Brassard

Our season review covers a Penguin forward no longer part of the equation.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Toronto Maple Leafs


Player: Derick Brassard

Born: September 21, 1987 (31-years-old)

Birthplace: Hull, Quebec

Shoots: Left

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 202 pounds

Contract: Unrestricted free agent on July 1

Regular Season History

Not a great season for a guy in a contract year.

After coming off of a disappointing playoff performance in 2017-18, the general consensus was that Brassard had to have been playing injured, and surely he would bounce back for the 2018-19 season. That was never really the case, from the time the season started to the time he was traded to Florida along with Riley Sheahan and some draft picks in exchange for Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann.

Game of the Season

October 25, 2018 — it looked a few weeks into the season like Brassard might have been finding his footing, and it showed with three assists against the Calgary Flames in a 9-1 win on the road for the Penguins.


With Brassard having been traded well before the trade deadline and the playoffs, he obviously wasn’t a factor in the postseason for the Penguins. Florida traded him at the deadline to Colorado. In nine postseason games for the Avalanche, Brassard logged zero goals and one assist, playing just a handful of minutes a night and basically becoming an afterthought for the Avs too.

Charts (via Charting Hockey)

On a team where Derick Brassard was supposed to be an excellent third-line center providing fantastic depth, he just never was that. We later on saw him airing his grievances after leaving Pittsburgh about his ice time. After that fact, it’s easy to see that it was a marriage that just didn’t work out.

And from hockeyviz:

That’s an ugly picture. The Pens were significantly worse with Brassard on the ice then when he wasn’t playing.

As expected for a player who couldn’t quite find much traction, it wasn’t for a lack of trying different roles and combinations out. But whether it was playing with Phil Kessel, Jake Guentzel, Zach Aston-Reese, Patric Hornqvist, Bryan Rust, Tanner Pearson, you name it, just never seemed to click for Brassard in Pittsburgh.

In a word: yuck. Brassard was supposed to come into Pittsburgh and give them a massive advantage of being a super-productive and effective player to team down the middle with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Instead, what was supposed to be a new three-headed monster totally backfired with Brassard’s performance being a monstrosity.

Brassard’s age 31 season was dreadful, and on three different teams he just didn’t perform well. Can he bounce back next year? Does he have more in the tank? Some real questions for a guy who 12-18 months ago was looking at one more sure-fire big contract. Now, at this point, and given how the NHL in a salary cap world can be unforgiving to middle-age players who aren’t stars, it’s a real question of just what is next for a guy who bombed out on three different teams in one year.

Ideal 2019-20

If you view the situation as Bjugstad/McCann’s production as a replacement for Brassard, the ideal output is what we saw from those two players as they were finding their strides and at least salvage the massive acquisition cost that it took to get them into town.

Realistic 2019-20

I don’t see much difference between “ideal” and “realistic” here. What we saw from Jared McCann during his time with the Penguins was closer to his ceiling and closer to his expectation, a level that we did not see him even come close to when he was in Vancouver and Florida. McCann looks to be the real prize of the trade, and the rare actual good young forward in Pittsburgh.

Worst Case 2019-20

Worst case situation for the Penguins would be bringing Derick Brassard back. In all seriousness, considering the fact that the Penguins added term in both McCann and Bjugstad, the worst case would be if things do not work out, but I don’t see that happening.


Despite it being clear that it didn’t work out, do you still think Rutherford made the right move swinging for the fences to try and get him and attempt the three-peat in 2017-18? Does the move to flip assets for McCann and Bjugstad leave a better taste in your mouth despite it not working out?



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