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Senators Preview: Brassard and Zibanejad

New York Rangers v Ottawa Senators Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images

It’s been 281 days since the New York Rangers traded Derick Brassard and a 7th-round pick to the Ottawa Senators for Mika Zibanejad and a 2nd-round pick. Nine months and seven days later New York and Ottawa are on the verge of a postseason showdown.

You can’t make this stuff up.


The Brassard for Zibanejad trade will be a persistent storyline of this series. Not only will it be less agitating than the Chris Kreider and Carey Price storyline, it also could prove to be a pivotal aspect of the series.

Measuring the two centers against one another is inevitable and it has been all season. It will be one of the featured talking points by analysts and armchair experts all series long.

So, how do the two centers who changed teams nine months ago stack up against one another?

Data from Corsica.hockey

If we’re talking about the regular season than Zibanejad was the far more productive player per game. Even with his injury troubles he finished with better relative counting stats than Brassard did thanks to the former Rangers slow start to the season.

But that was the regular season. What about Brassard’s road to this meeting against his former team in the Eastern Conference Semifinals?

Well, the former Ranger has been playing like a man possessed. He has points in five straight playoff games and is undoubtedly one of the reasons why the Senators advanced past the first round.

In six postseason games against the Boston Bruins Brassard did for Ottawa what he had done for New York - he elevated his game. Brass scored two goals and picked up six assists for the Senators in the first round. He’s averaging 20:43 a night (thanks to some overtime showdowns) and is leading Ottawa in points.

Brassard is also tied for the lead in assists and power play points.

Any misgivings Senators fans had about his lukewarm regular season are likely forgotten. Brassard is playing like the first line center that Ottawa traded for in July when it matters most.

Rangers fans know all about what Brassard can do when he’s playing in a big game. One can only imagine what beating the team that traded him would mean to him.

Playing against the Rangers in the regular season this year Brassard had one goal (a game winner) in three games. Zibanejad scored a goal in his only appearance against the Senators this season.

Zibanejad might not have Brassard’s intimidating playoff production, but he’s been a key contributor for the Rangers. Fittingly enough, he is leading the Rangers in points with one goal and three assists in six games. All four of those points came in the final four games of the Montreal series.

Oh, and about that goal.

The question we ask shouldn’t be which team won the trade and whether or not that answer changes with the result of this series.

Instead, there should be a discussion about how the Zibanejad for Brassard trade has worked out for both teams — that’s why they are both still standing in the 2017 Playoffs. At least for now.