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New York Rangers have a true number one center in Derick Brassard

Bobby Bevilacqua

Derick Brassard 1

Derick Brassard has emerged as the Rangers number one center, and is second on the team in points behind fellow linemate Rick Nash. Photo courtesy of SNY Rangers Blog.

During the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season, the New York Rangers traded away Marian Gaborik, a two-time 40 goal scorer in New York, to the Columbus Blue Jackets for some young talent, including Derek Dorsett, John Moore, and Derick Brassard.

Brassard was a highly-touted prospect in Junior Hockey, and was drafted sixth overall by Columbus in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He had his best season with them in the 2010-2011 season, putting up a career high 47 points (17-30-47).

Brassard came over to the Rangers, and in 13 games, tallied 11 points (5-6-11), as well as another 12 points (2-10-12) in the Rangers 12 playoff games.

Last season, Brassard had a very important role, centering what was arguably the Rangers most consistent line throughout the season, with Benoit Pouliot and Mats Zuccarello playing on the wings. Brassard had a career high 18 goals to go along with 27 assists, totaling 45 points in 81 regular season games.

Brassard was a crucial contributor in the Rangers Stanley Cup run, scoring another 12 points (6-6-12) in 23 games, and scoring some key goals for the team.

In the offseason, Brassard was rewarded with a five year, $25 million contract, a move that was questioned by some. However, Brassard has proved to the Rangers that their money was well spent, and is off to a phenomenal start this season.

When Derek Stepan went down with a broken leg during the preseason, Brassard was immediately thrust into an increased role, eventually taking over the first line center role. Since assuming that position, he has held on to it, and thrived alongside Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello over the past few weeks.

Before the season started, Brassard was expected to play on the second line, but has been a true top line center this season. In just 37 games this season, Brassard already has 33 points (11-22-33), which is second on the team, and has built excellent chemistry with Nash and Zuccarello, as well as Martin St. Louis when he was playing on the Rangers first line.

zuccarello and brassard 12-13

Derick Brassard has played a lot of games with Mats Zuccarello by his side over the past two years, and that has certainly shown, with the two of them skating with Rick Nash on the Rangers best line. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

Brassard looks like a totally different player as well. He is one of the most creative players on the ice, almost always finding a way to hit the open man with a perfect pass. He knows how to effectively carry the puck through the neutral zone to start plays, and has improved defensively, often on the ice against other team’s top lines. Lastly, “Brass” is a quality scorer, with a very underrated slap shot and a tendency to go to the net and score.

When the Rangers signed Dan Boyle to a two-year deal, he was expected to quarterback the power play and give the Rangers a threat on the man advantage. While he has certainly done that, Brassard has actually been one of the biggest reasons why the Rangers 10th ranked power play has been thriving lately.

While playing on the first power play unit this season, Brass leads the team with 14 points (4-10-14) on the man advantage, placing him amongst players like Alex Ovechkin and Tyler Seguin in that category. Brassard has shown excellent decision making and great passing, and is one of the reasons why the Rangers have scored at least once on the power play in six of their last eight games, going 10-26 in that span.

Brassard hi 5 line 10-16

Brassard has been the Rangers best skater on the power play, using his great vision and passing skills to help New York’s man advantage climb to the 10th ranked spot in the league. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Over his last 15 games, Brassard has 16 points (5-11-16), and has played some of his best hockey during the Rangers stretch of 13 wins in the last 14 games played.

Brassard is on pace for about 72 points this season, which would greatly surpass his career high of 47 points. But with Rick Nash, who is tied for the league-lead in goals with 26, and the craft Zuccarello at his side, the possibilities are limitless.

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Posted on January 12, 2015, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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