The continued confirmation of additional suitors for Pittsburgh Penguins center Derick Brassard is creating a market for the player and likely driving up the price. Simple supply and demand. For the second year in a row, Brassard may be one of the most sought after center on the trade market.
However, unlike last year, there are three to five other candidates. Matt Duchene will easily top the center wish list if he and the Ottawa Senators are not close to a contract by early next week. But after Duchene is a gaggle of talented centers: Brassard, Kevin Hayes, Brayden Schenn, and Charlie Coyle.
GMs who need a center are no longer shopping in a boutique but more like a Walmart. Also, add Florida Panther Nick Bjugstad to the list and maybe Jeff Carter, too.
The Penguins are unlikely to get the same return they shelled out for Brassard last February. To use another analogy–the new car depreciates as soon as you drive it off the lot. Brassard’s slip in Pittsburgh, just 14 points this season (8g, 6a) and only 22 points (11g, 11a) in 53 games, overall means that new car has a lot of depreciation.
Brassard hasn’t scored 50 points in a season since he scored 58 points with the 2015-16 New York Rangers. Last season which he split between Ottawa and Pittsburgh, Brassard totaled 46 points (21g, 25a).
That car has gone from creampuff to a restoration too quickly. The Penguins gave up a first round pick, highly touted goalie prospect Filip Gustavsson, defenseman Ian Cole and skilled bottom-six tough guy Ryan Reaves. In retrospect, the Penguins paid full sticker price (sorry, the car analogy fits too well), though they also got a couple of minor leaguers and a third-round pick.
Kind of like getting free oil changes with the new car smell?
Using the market for the last couple of years as a guide is a bit misleading as Brassard drove the market last year. At the 2018 NHL trade deadline, the Detroit Red Wings were able to extort a 2018 first round pick, 2019 second pick and 2021 third rounder from Vegas for Tomas Tatar. Though Vegas had stockpiled so many draft picks from their work in the Expansion Draft that picks were like monopoly money.
A good point of comparison for Brassard is what the Winnipeg Jets paid for Paul Stastny, last season. Stastny earned St. Louis a first round pick and a solid prospect, Erik Foley who was tearing it up at Providence College.
A comparison the Penguins may not want to make is to Brian Boyle. At the 2016-17 NHL Trade deadline, Boyle was dealt from Tampa Bay to Toronto for only a conditional second-round pick and a journeyman forward (Bryan Froese). Boyle was on the wrong side of 30-years-old and a 25-point third line center.
Brassard’s history is too great for the Penguins to get such little return but Boyle’s net should be a few ice cubes in the Kool-Aid.
In a crowded marketplace, a first rounder and a legitimate prospect would appear to be the high-end return rate for Brassard. However, such a deal would unlikely satisfy the Penguins need for a third line center to replace Brassard. Based on last season’s performance and the first month of this season, Pittsburgh Hockey Now remains unconvinced Riley Sheahan could be the Penguins answer to the third line center question.
The Penguins, of course, will have a deep blue line from which to deal, as well. The potential for a combo deal including Brassard and a defenseman makes sense for a couple of Western Conference teams searching for pivots and defensemen. The Penguins could also deal Brassard for a commensurate power forward who is also a pending free agent.
Say, Michael Ferland? TSN Insider Pierre Lebrun said that has been discussed.
The Penguins will not recoup what they paid for Brassard. The Colorado Avalanche appear to have zeroed in on New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes, but multiple reports again link Winnipeg to Brassard.
So, somewhere amongst Winnipeg, San Jose, Columbus, Carolina, and Dallas, the Penguins should be able to find a viable deal even if it’s for additional trade capital to spin into another deal, or two, to fill the Penguins Stanley Cup needs.