The 28-year-old from Hull was New York’s leading scorer, with 27 goals in 80 games. He had a total of 58 points in the 2015-2016 season, two shy of his career-best season in 2014-2015. Brassard had been one of the most consistent goal-scorers on the Rangers and he should do rather well in Ottawa, where he’ll have the chance to play alongside some terrific young talent.
Brassard had been the subject of trade rumours for a few weeks, so the deal isn’t exactly a bolt from the blue. It does put him in familiar territory, however.
“I know a lot of guys. I was skating with them in the summers,” Brassard said. “I got to know Cody Ceci and Mark Stone at the World Championship this summer. I got along with those two guys really well. I know Mike Hoffman from junior, I know [Jean-Gabriel] Pageau from living in Hull and kind of grew up in the same city as him.”
Brassard also played for Ottawa head coach Guy Boucher in Drummondville way back in 2006-2007.
As of right now, it looks like the Senators will stick Brassard as their second-line centre. That’s a bit of a demotion from his top-line status on Broadway, but it will give him the chance to play alongside another smaller winger in Pageau.
In Zibanejad, the Rangers are receiving a 23-year-old who is coming off a career-high season. The Swedish pivot had 51 points in 81 games for the 2015-2016 season and has been making steady improvements each year, which suggests he’ll find a nice spot inside New York’s top six. It’s possible he even replaces centre Brassard, who slotted in between Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello.
Zibanejad will also get some serious power play time and should see his point totals continue to improve.
“I think the potential is there for more upside,” New York general manager Jeff Gorton said. “He’s just scratching the surface at age 23. There’s not a lot of guys that have done what he’s done as far as score 20 before that age. He kills penalties. He’s really emerged on the draws. Since he’s come in, he’s gotten better every year, and I think we’re just scratching the surface.”