After signing a 5 year, $25 million contract extension; Derick Brassard was coming into the 2014-15 campaign with a lot of expectations riding on his shoulders for a player who had shown flashes of high talent but really hadn't put it all together. In 2014-15, Derick Brassard to the big step into solidifying himself as the number 2 center on the Rangers in a big way.
With all of the early season shuffling in the center position due to Derek Stepan's broken leg (Martin St. Louis Number 1 center was an actual thing that happened this year), Brassard remained staunchly entrenched in that 2nd line role and provided solid, consistent offense while also being a primary play driver for the first time in his career (clearing one of the biggest question marks coming into the season) even while his linemates kept getting jostled around.
It was once Stepan returned that things really started to pick up for Brassard, with Stepan getting St. Louis tied to his right side and dragging his line down, the troika of Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard, and Rick Nash held down the fort and, for the most part, drove the Rangers offensive play for most of the season. Which in turn led to Brassard having a career year (19-40-59 in 80 games played) firmly supplanting himself into a bona fide top six scoring center.
As the playoffs rolled around, Brassard really picked his game up. Opening the scoring 28 seconds into the Rangers first playoff game against the Pittsburgh Penguins and capped his stellar 9-7-16 playoff run with a hat trick in game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Derick also continued to prove that he has the best slap shot on the team, especially from the faceoff circles down
Offense: After showing bits and spurts of being a top ten draft pick, Brassard really broke through this year putting up a 2.6 ppg pace and beating all of my expectations for him. Final Grade: B
Possession (Fancy Stats): My biggest question for Brassard coming into this past season was whether or not Derick could drive play and not rely on his wingers as much as he did in 2013-14 and for the most part he did. Both Zuccarello and Rick Nash saw a 2-3% bump in their possession with Brassard than without (Zuke: 53.2 with, 50.2% without. Nash: 51.3% with, 49% without). Final Grade: A
Final Grade: Brassard met or exceeded all of the expectations I had for him this year and raised the bar for the level of his play for next season and beyond. Final Grade: A-