Penguins Have Unmatched Depth With Brassard

Derick Brassard is a Pittsburgh Penguin.

It seems every year the Penguins are involved in just about every trade rumor that exists given the team’s high profile and recent dominance. This year was no exception, as the Pens were tied to just about every big name player that was said to be available from Evander Kane to Tomas Tatar or even former New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

That’s right, the Penguins reportedly bid on one of the best defensemen available at the deadline.

New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh
Former-New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

While many NHL trade rumours come from legitimate sources, many are also just speculation. However, the notion that the Penguins were pushing to acquire a rival’s top defender is not one of those rumors. Here’s a look at a section from Elliotte Friedman’s 31 thoughts:

6. I do believe Pittsburgh considered McDonagh, but by the time it was reported, they’d already realized they couldn’t make it work. The rest of the Eastern Conference groaned in disappointment when the Penguins got Brassard. Can only imagine the reaction if McDonagh happened.

McDonagh is an elite defenseman that required an elite price to acquire, even if the idea of Ryan joining Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Brian Dumoulin and Justin Schultz on the blueline is tantalizing.

Penguins Gain Unmatched Center Depth

Just six days ago, the Penguins acquired center Derick Brassard from the Ottawa Senators. It was one of the strangest deals we have seen in a few seasons, as before becoming a Penguin he was first a member of the Las Vegas Golden Knights, albeit for all of five minutes. Let’s break down what happened during this trade and what it means for the future of the Penguins.

Penguins center Derick Brassard
Derick Brassard will have a chance to participate in the NHL playoffs this year. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

In the first trade, the Senators sent Brassard to the Golden Knights, who will retain 40% of his salary and cap hit, then he was sent to the Penguins. In exchange, the Pens sent forward Ryan Reaves and a 2018 fourth-round pick (which Pittsburgh originally acquired from the Vancouver Canucks) to Las Vegas. Next, Pittsburgh sent a first-round pick, defender Ian Cole (who was later flipped to the Columbus Blue Jackets) and an upcoming goalie prospect Filip Gustavsson to the Ottawa Senators.

The Senators also included a 2018 third-round draft pick and prospect forward Vincent Dunn in the package heading to Pittsburgh while Las Vegas sent forward prospect Tobias Lindberg (also to the Penguins). The deal was so complicated and the league had never dealt with a third team retaining salary, that it was originally rejected by the NHL and the three teams had to rework it to comply with the league rules.

What Does Brassard Bring?


Unmatched depth at that. The Penguins now boast the most lethal trio of centers in the NHL; their top two lines have been led by future Hall of Famers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. However, this past offseason, the team lost Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen in free agency, which left a hole in their bottom-six. The team tried a variety of replacements but none provided the level of offensive production and defensive responsibility that they desired.

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, NHL, Pittsburgh Penguins
Will Malkin and Crosby see more playoff hockey in 2017-18? (Dave Sandford/NHLI/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

Enter Brassard, who has played in 703 NHL games with 159 goals, 261 assists and 420 points. On the surface, he looks like an acceptable middle-six center who can step into top line- or second line-duty when needed. Brassard is also one of the most lethal NHL players in the playoffs and finds that extra gear when it matters most. In 78 career playoff games, he has 22 goals, 33 assists for 55 points; impressive to say the least and he will be centering the third line!

Brassard’s greatest asset is that he will serve as insurance for the team once the playoffs start. If Crosby or Malkin were to be injured, the team would struggle with either Riley Sheahan or Carter Rowney centering the third line.

You’d think a player of his caliber would come with an expensive price tag. Well, due to the salary retention by the Golden Knights, Brassard will cost Pittsburgh is just $3 million against the salary cap this year and next. He isn’t a rental player, he’s under contract for the next season and he gives the Penguins options beyond what any other team had available to them.