During his entirety as general manager, Bryan Murray never spun the Ottawa Senators into a full rebuild. Now his successor, Pierre Dorion is not yet willing to go that route either. Every time the team has had a bad season, it would bounce back the following year. In fact, Ottawa has not missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons since first making the playoffs 1997. The hope is to continue that tradition and make the playoffs next season, and Dorion has gotten to work this summer to try and make that happen.
He trades Mika Zibanejad and the team’s second-round draft pick in 2018 for Derek Brassard and a seventh-round draft pick from the New York Rangers. The first noticeable thing about this trade is the picks involved between the two parties. The seventh round is a big difference from the second round, so the Rangers get the better part of that deal. Apply that to the players that are a part of this trade and it is clear that both sides agree that Derek Brassard is currently the better player, hence the need to use the draft picks to balance the deal out.
Eyeing the Playoffs
The Senators receive a player who is in the midst of his prime, hitting career-highs of 27 goals last season, and hit his career high of 60 points just the year before. He will be 29 years old by the start of next season and the expectation is for him to have at least a couple of strong seasons in an Ottawa uniform. The hope is that Brassard’s playoff experience will be a boon for the Senators as he adds a layer of leadership to the core of Kyle Turris, Bobby Ryan, Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf and Marc Methot. With 44 points in 59 playoff games, he automatically becomes the team’s most accomplished playoff performer. Team owner Eugene Melnyk demands that this team is a consistent contender to make the post-season, and general manager Pierre Dorion is determined to see that through.
The Price to Pay
The price for Derick Brassard was relatively high, however. In Mika Zibanejad, Ottawa loses a promising centre that could have been a fixture on the second line – or even the first line – for years. Although Brassard comes in to fill one of those spots immediately, fans can wonder what this Iranian Swede could have become for the team. At age 23, he hit career highs of 21 goals and 51 points last season, but does the Senators’ management team feel that those statistics would have represented his ceiling? It is certainly a possibility, as management felt like he could have become the team’s top centre quite quickly. It remains to be seen if Zibanejad does become a number one centre, and the Rangers could become an incredible team again if he does.
It is unlikely that Brassard will come to Ottawa and become its top centre unless Kyle Turris suffers another major injury. However, he does improve the depth at centre for the time being. While Zibanejad could become the player worthy of his position as an eight-overall pick, management’s faith in its newest top prospect Logan Brown probably aided in the decision behind this trade.
Both centres play fairly strong defensive games. Both can score over 20 goals and over 50 points per season. It will depend on Zibanejad’s progression over the next few years and how well the Rangers use that second-round draft pick that will determine any winner in this trade. For now, the Ottawa Senators will be glad to have someone help them make it back into the post-season.