A couple draft picks in 2018 get flipped in the deal, as well. So where do the Rangers and Senators stand now that they have swapped centers? Brassard and Zibanejad had similar stats but different profiles in the league.
We just had an honest-to-goodness hockey trade in the middle of summer. The New York Rangers have sent Derick Brassard and a seventh-round pick in 2018 to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Mika Zibanejad and a second-rounder in 2018. Let’s get into the details, shall we?
Statistically, Brassard and Zibanejad were pretty similar this past season, with both players facing decent competition and getting a lot of offensive zone starts. Brassard notched 58 points in 80 games, including a career-best 27 goals. He won the majority of his faceoffs and to cap things off, he was a monster for Canada en route to gold at the World Championship in Russia.
Zibanejad put up 51 points in 81 games, a career high for him. He also won the majority of his draws for an Ottawa team that did not make the playoffs.
So we have similar players, but at different points of their careers. Brassard is in his prime right now and will battle Kyle Turris as Ottawa’s No. 1 center (it’s likely a 1A-1B scenario). He’ll have familiarity on the Senators, as new bench boss Guy Boucher coached Brassard in junior, while defenseman Marc Methot is his best friend.
Zibanejad is younger and cheaper – the latter of which is just as important for a New York squad that is bumping up near the cap ceiling. Their new center is entering his final year on a contract that comes with a cap hit of $2.6 million and he’ll still be a restricted free agent after that. The 28-year-old Brassard has three seasons left on a deal worth $5 million per and while he is worth that, the Rangers still need to lock down RFAs Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes.
Right now, you’d rather have Brassard. But there is potential for Zibanejad to keep climbing. He’s 23 right now and though he firmly slots behind Derek Stepan on New York’s depth chart, it will be interesting to see what he can do in Manhattan.
And the Rangers did need to get younger. New York is in an odd position right now, as they have great players such as Henrik Lundqvist and Ryan McDonagh, but don’t seem to be much of a threat for 2016-17. Certain contracts (Dan Girardi, for example) will be very difficult to move, so perhaps GM Jeff Gorton is attempting to rebuild on the fly; not sinking too low in the standings, but still replenishing the ranks in a slow and deliberate manner.
That has been difficult with a lack of draft picks lately, but the second-rounder acquired in this deal will help.
Both Ottawa and New York seemed to need a shake-up this summer and while this is only one trade involving two players, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.