Florida Panthers: Will Derick Brassard Remain in Sunrise after February?

SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 2: Derick Brassard #25 of the Florida Panthers crosses sticks with Reilly Smith #19 of the Vegas Golden Knights at the BB&T Center on February 2, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 2: Derick Brassard #25 of the Florida Panthers crosses sticks with Reilly Smith #19 of the Vegas Golden Knights at the BB&T Center on February 2, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Dale Tallon’s trade to bring in former Penguins Brassard and Sheahan were initially perceived as a move to free up cap space, but both have remained on the Panthers more than two weeks after the trade.

The decision to bring in these two was based on their contracts both Riley Sheahan and Derick Brassard’s deals will expire after this season, giving the Florida Panthers free cap space to push for a big name during the 2019 offseason.

Bringing in Brassard from Pittsburgh was a move that the 31-year-old center desperately needed. For the last two seasons, his career has been awfully puzzling from his emergence with the New York Rangers back in the early part of this decade.

Following his time in New York, Brassard grew as one of the key members of the Ottawa Senators squad that surprised the NHL by getting to game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals, only to be knocked out on a sudden-death overtime goal by Chris Kunitz and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Nine months later, Brassard was traded to those very same Penguins to serve as a solid 3rd center, as the Penguins pushed to complete the first “three-peat” since the New York Islanders’ dynasty.

What happened next was something that neither end of the deal expected, as Brassard ran into a wall in Pittsburgh.

There was no injury or locker room drama to deal with, but Brassard just never performed the same under Mike Sullivan’s Penguins team.

With just 27 points across 62 games, he seriously underperformed, to say the least. The pressure seemed to weigh a little too much for Brassard.

After starting this season with a dreadful 15 points in 40 games, the Penguins flipped him to Florida, his fifth team in his twelve-year career.

From the start, there were differing opinions about what laid next for Brassard. There were early claims from the media that the Panthers would move Brassard swiftly, expecting the situation to play similar to Mike Hoffman’s San Jose-Florida trade scenario this past summer. Some experts didn’t even expect Brassard to play for Florida.

Despite that, Brassard was pleased to be a member of the Panthers and looked to stay in Sunrise.

In an interview with DKPittsburghSports.com’s Dejan Kovacevic, Brassard opened up about his experience in Pittsburgh and his state of mind going forward with Florida. He had this to say:

"“I feel like I can be myself here. I don’t think it was the right fit for me there. Now I’m trying to move on, and I’m really excited to be here. I feel like this team in Florida, we’re really close. My main focus is on being here.”"

Through 8 games as a Panther, Derick Brassard has recorded 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists). Not terrible numbers, but certainly not incredible stats.

A lot of what Brassard has brought hasn’t been rewarded on the stat sheet. Brassard has been one of the quicker forwards on the team since arriving, delivering sharp passes and good transitions from zone to zone with his quick frame.

His one and only Panthers goal against the Washington Capitals shows off his speed and awareness. He tails into the zone after Evgeni Dadonov wins the puck literally seconds into the period and drives in on Braden Holtby.

His wrist shot is saved, but Brassard poaches home the rebound, getting free from the rest of the Capitals players to ghost in unmarked.

While I have a lot of respect for Brassard as a member of the Panthers, on and off the ice, there is one serious problem with keeping hold of him.

Brassard is 31-years-old, while the average age of the rest of the Panthers top six is around 26. Ultimately, he doesn’t quite fit along the Panthers’ timeline.

Also, earlier I mentioned that Brassard emerged with the Rangers and grew into a top-six forward with the Senators. Brassard was never a very good regular season player for either team.

Brassard is very similar to Nick Bonino, a center who fails to conjure consistency during the regular season but catches fire in the months of April and May during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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Brassard had 44 points across 59 playoff games for the Rangers, as well as 11 points in 19 playoff games for the Senators. He’s a proven playoff warrior, and there are teams that may need Brassard more than the Panthers do.

Whereas talking about value, Brassard may not have too much, but that’s fine for Florida. After all, him leaving at the end of the season and freeing up $5 million in cap hit and AAV is enough of an award for Dale Tallon.

If the Cats can scrape a mid-level draft pick out of a playoff contender, I’m sure nobody on either side will complain.

One team that could take a flyer on Brassard could be the Dallas Stars. The Stars could be primed for a return to the postseason for the first time in three years.

They are four points clear (and have two games in hand) on the Vancouver Canucks for a wild-card spot and would be slated against the Winnipeg Jets if the playoffs started today.

While they do have some major stars that could help them keep up with the Jets, ask the Nashville Predators if you can beat the Jets with underperforming depth. A trade like this could be mutual for both teams:

While Brassard’s impact has been felt both on and off the ice, it would be smarter for the Panthers to earn draft capital, rather than retain him for the remainder of the season.

Time will only tell if the Cats will part ways from the Quebec-born center. The trade deadline is set to hit on Monday, Feb. 25 @ 3 P.M., meaning the Panthers will have speed up the negotiation process in order to receive that desired return.

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