Islanders Derick Brassard Can’t Go Back to Center
Derick Brassard was brought in to fill a third-line center role for the Islanders in 2019-20. But through 18 games it’s clear he’s actually a top-six winger.
With two points against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday Islanders forward Derick Brassard now has 13 points in 18 games. That puts him on pace for 59 points over a full 82 game season.
Brassard was picked up by Lou Lamoriello in the bargain bin of the 2019 free agency window. With a single year $1.2 million deal, Brassard was brought in to anchor the third line and fill the spot vacated by Valtteri Filppula.
But as the injury bug hit the Islanders, and Jordan Eberle had to sit out for a few weeks, there was an opening on the Islanders top-six. Josh Bailey would move from the second line to the top line, and eventually, Barry Trotz moved Derick Brassard to the second line RW.
And the points just started piling up for the 32-year-old veteran.
You’re A Winger Brass
On October 24, Barry Trotz moved Derick Brassard to the wing of the second line to play with Anthony Beauvillier and Brock Nelson. He scored his first goal of the season that night. In fact, he’d score a goal every night for the next four games.
Before being moved to the wing, Brassard had a single point to his name. Since moving to the wing, he has 12 points in ten games. The turn around has been remarkable.
In the offseason, the Islanders signed the veteran free-agent forward to a single year deal after being on the market for nearly two months. The Islanders weren’t looking to land a top-six winger, they were hoping to get a solid third-line center who might be able to help their woeful power play.
Before the season started, Brassard told us he wanted to get back to his old form. Speaking with The Athletic’s Arthur Staple (subscription required), Brassard said he’d take that poor 2018-19 season as motivation to come back stronger:
"“I know I can help this team. I had a bad eight or nine months. I felt like I played some good hockey the last couple of years, but for sure, people are going to think about what just happened. But for me, I’m just going to try to move on from that season and use it as motivation and come back even stronger.” – Derick Brassard"
Brassard spent the 2018-19 season bouncing between three teams. He started the season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who picked him up at the trade deadline from the Ottawa Senators in the previous season. On February 1 he was traded to the Florida Panthers and then on February 25 he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche.
Brassard wasn’t being traded around because he was a top-quality player. After getting to the Penguins he scored 15 points in 40 games before getting traded. He had four points in ten games with the Panthers before getting traded again.
All told, Brassard scored 23 points in 70 games during the 2018-19 season. That’s why Brassard was still on the market on August 21. It seemed like the 31-year-olds best days were behind him.
Again, with 13 points in 18 games, Brassard is on pace for 59 points by the end of the season. He’s back to his very best. His career-high was a 60 point season with the Rangers back in 2014-15.
At this point, it’s clear that Brassard can’t go back to being the team’s third-line center. Not only is he producing like a top-six player, but his link-up play with fellow French-Canadian Anthony Beauvillier has completed the Islanders second line.
The third line center role should go to Casey Cizikas. It’s the perfect fit for the organization. His ability to transition defense into offense is unmatched in the league.
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There’s no reason to put Derick Brassard back at center. He’s shown that he’s still a top-six player. it’s yet another inspired strike by duo Lamoriello and Trotz. I’ve said it before, it feels good to have this team run by adults.