This is what selling high looks like.
This is a great hockey trade and it’s what I’m talking about when I speak on the player and not the person. Brassard the person? He was a fan favorite, great in the room, best friends with Mats Zuccarello (poor Zucc) and was all around a good time. I never heard a bad thing said about Brassard and never thought a bad thing about him myself — well, outside of his refusal to shoot.
That being said, this move — when looked at from the hockey player perspective — was a big-time win for Jeff Gorton. It’s the type of move we were all drooling for when he took over for Glen Sather.
The Rangers got younger, more skilled, added a 2nd round pick to their barren draft pick boards and saved cap space in the process. Mika Zibanejad is a 23-year-old Derick Brassard right now; which doesn’t take into account what he can be as he continues to grow. Brassard -- for as great as he is — is inching towards 30 and has seen most of his best years pass behind him.
The consensus of this deal usually floats around this:
Brassard is 29, had 1 20 goal season, costs 5M per & has peaked, Mika is 23, has 2 20 goal seasons, has potential & size, and makes half $$— Sens Town (@SensTown) July 18, 2016
As difficult as it is to see Brassard go -- and it really is -- this is a hockey move that makes a ton of sense for the Rangers. Zibanejad is a big body with great wheels and a scoring touch who, at 23, had just as much offense and better possession numbers on a worse team. Brassard very well may go on to post up a couple of more 60-point seasons, and Zibanejad will (hopefully) have a season to command a Brassard-like deal, but the age difference and growth potential is huge here. Brassard is what he is, Zibanejad is still growing.
And that’s really the point here, no? Teams who want to consistently evolve into contenders (like Chicago) make moves like this all the time. The Rangers get younger and better and get another high quality draft pick (kind of weird to be stockpiling those instead of shooing them away like flies) in the process. If Zibanejad continues to improve (he’s put up career highs in goals, assist and and points every year he’s been in the NHL) he could turn into a 70-point player for the Rangers down the line. He does have that type of trajectory, and to get that for someone who has already peaked is spectacular.
There seems to be consistency issues surrounding Zibanejad in the same way that Brassard had those types of issues. Every now and again you don’t even realize Zibanejad is playing and then other times he’s easily the best player on the ice. Some of that comes with growing, which Zibanejad can do — and if he can watch out.
If you need some extra help getting excited about the Rangers newest acquisition let me help you:
With Zibanejad, the Rangers have a hell of a pillar down the middle when it comes to forward depth. This alleviates any concerns over a Derek Stepan trade, and Kevin Hayes will be sticking around — albeit on a bridge deal — to give the Rangers a strong series of young centers. At 26, Stepan is the elder statesman of the group, which is saying something.
Like I said before, these are the moves the Rangers need to be making. Get rid of older players — even if you’re doing it while they’re still productive -- and sell high before they start the downward spiral of the roller coaster that is a professional athlete’s career. You always want to sell a year too early rather than a year too late, even if you’re holding your nose while you do it.
I want to give a big thank you to Brassard (in the event he reads this website) who put his heart on the line for the team, was hilarious and was probably the greatest playoff performer the Rangers had over his time here. Seriously, he grew bigger as the stage grew brighter.
But I think it’s saying something about what the Rangers got back that I’m both this sad to see Brassard go and this excited about what the Rangers got for him.