Who Wins The Derick Brassard-Mika Zibanejad Trade?
By: Matt Giusti
It took until Monday July 18th for the New York Rangers to make a major move to their roster. And that move came in the form of a trade that sent fan favorite center Derick Brassard, a 2018 7th Round pick to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for center Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 2nd Round pick. For months the speculation was that the Rangers were trying to move Rick Nash or Derek Stepan, but the Rangers couldn’t find a taker for those huge contracts that those two have. So it was Brassard who the ” Broadway Blueshirts ended up moving and now the question around the league is who got the better end of this trade. Let’s take a look.
What the Senators are getting: Derick Brassard will be turning 29 in September and is coming off a career season. Brassard posted totals of 27 goals and 31 assists, playing in 80 games for the Rangers. Brassard is a great player to have on the power play, as evidenced by the 21 he has posted the past three seasons. While not the most reliable defensive forwards, Brassard has gotten a lot better in the face-off circle over the past few years, including winning 50% of his draws for the first time this past year. The former 6th overall pick in the 2006 NHL Draft will likely slot behind Kyle Turris as the #2 center for the Senators. Brassard will definitely help a Ottawa power play that finished 26th in league last year and in my opinion clearly underachieved with the all the talent that they possess. One person that could help push Brassard past the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career, is defensemen Erik Karlsson. Karlsson has proven time and time again that he is the best offensive defensemen in the game today and no disrespect to the any of the Rangers defensemen, but Brassard never had that caliber of player feeding him the puck. The Senators also got a 7th Round Draft pick in the deal and people shouldn’t sleep on that, as their plenty of examples of players taken in that round that have made a significant impact. It’s rare but it has been done.
What the Rangers are getting: After getting eliminated in the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 5 games, it was clear that the Rangers needed to do some retooling. The goals of that were to get younger, recoup some of those draft picks that were given away via trades and shed some salary. In doing this trade, the New York Rangers accomplished those things. Let’s first talk about the player the Rangers got in this deal, Mika Zibanejad. The 23-year old former #6 overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft is also coming off a career season, tallying 20 goals and 31 assists, in 81 games played. And like Brassard, Zibanejad has made great strides in the face-off circle, as he won 50% of his draws for the first time in his career. Zibanejad is also a player who can kill penalties and that is something that the Rangers were putrid at last year, that ranking of 26th in the league tells that story. Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton was quoted as saying ” I think the potential is there for more upside. He’s just scratching the surface at age 23.” Well Zibanejad could have an early opportunity to prove Gorton right, as there is a real possibility he could end up playing on a line with wingers Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello come opening night. Zibanejad has shown that he also has the flair for the dramatic, when he scored the golden goal in the 2012 World Junior Hockey Finals against Russia for the Gold Medal. The Rangers also received a 2nd Round pick from Ottawa and that is huge news for the Rangers, as they have shipped so many of those away in questionable trades.
Who wins the trade: The edge goes to the New York Rangers for this trade. The Rangers got a player in Zibanejad who is 6 years younger than Brassard and already puts up similar production. And if Gorton is right, Zibanejad could be a 65 plus point player down the road for the Rangers. Not to mention it saves the Rangers some cap space that can be used to sign RFAs Kevin Hayes and Chris Kreider. The other reason why the Rangers won this trade was the fact that they were able to get a 2nd Round pick in 2018 that they so desperately needed. Don’t get me wrong, the Senators got a good player in Derick Brassard and he will help that team a lot. But I don’t think that move puts the Senators any closer to a Stanley Cup, as there is still work for them to be done. As it currently stands, the Rangers aren’t that close to winning a Stanley Cup either, but they got a young player with a ton of upside, the 2nd Round pick and they shed salary. Good work by the New York Rangers.