Nik Zherdev. Nikita Filatov. Gilbert Brule. These are just a few of the first round draft picks who were supposed to come to Columbus and turn the team into a competitive force in the Western Conference. Those three, along with many others, failed to match the expectations and succeed with the Blue Jackets. We can now also add Derick Brassard to that list.
Drafted sixth overall in the 2006 draft, Brassard was seen as a guy who could potentially become the team's eventual first-line center. He started off very well, winning all sorts of acclamation and honors while in the AHL. In his first full season with the Blue Jackets he started off very well, producing 25 points in 31 games as a 21 year old. However, things started to go downhill from there.
Derick Brassard stuck up for teammate Fedor Tyutin and fought James Neal, then with the Stars. During the fight, Brassard dislocated his shoulder. He would need surgery and missed the rest of the 2008-2009 season.
Things did not go as smoothly upon Brassard's return. Ken Hitchcock, head coach at the time, limited Brassard's (as well as other young players') icetime and insisted that they focus more on their defensive play. At many times Brassard was relegated to fourth line duty. Brassard would only produce 37 points in the 2009-2010 season. Nikita Filatov was most pronounced in showing his frustration, opting to abandon the Blue Jackets for the KHL because of how he was being handled, but there were grumblings that Brassard was also very unhappy with Hitchcock and wanted him gone.
Brassard got his wish, with Hitchcock being fired in February. Scott Arniel was named the new head coach of the Blue Jackets for the 2010-2011 season, and Brassard got the top-six minutes he craved. He put up a career high 17 goals and 47 points in 74 games. The next season was slightly worse, with 14 goals and 41 points in 74 games, but nonetheless he was showing stretches of great play and development as an offensive center.
Arniel was replaced with Todd Richards for this season, and Brassard's play once again dipped. Brassard was rumored to be on the trading block for years (with the Rangers even speculated as an interested team), so Brassard's inclusion in the Gaborik trade was not even remotely surprising. Larry Brooks spoke to Brassard and Derick confirmed that the weight of expectations was heavy.
“'The organization and team definitely had expectations,' Brassard said. 'I tried to help as much as I could, but we had some tough years and it was really, really hard.'"
This highlights the beauty of his move to the Rangers; there really are no expectations. Brad Richards is the big name center with the huge paycheck. He's the one with the burden to perform at the highest level. Derek Stepan also has been given an increased role and will be relied upon to be one of the top players on the team. For Brassard, he'll get the opportunity he wants without the high expectations. In Columbus, a 45-50 point season fell well below what the team had hoped for. But with this Rangers team that same production is the kind this team was desperate to infuse.
And he is only 25 years old. It's not outside the realm of possibility that he becomes a 60 or 65 point guy. We certainly saw that kind of potential in him in his first game with the team. He produced three points, with a nice backhand goal and two creative, intelligent assists on the powerplay. Of course, it was only one game. And Brassard told Brooks that he knows that it means very little.
“It was great to have a game like that, but I haven’t proven a thing,” Brassard said. “I have to be good every game.”
Brassard will need to be more consistent with the Rangers than he was in Columbus. But the expectations here are different. There is pressure here as well, being New York and a team looking to contend immediately, but it's a different kind of pressure and one that won't eat away at Brassard the way the it did in Columbus. He's not going to be up against the opposition's top line constantly. He's not going to be relied on for heavy offensive output. Brassard can just worry about doing what he can every shift, adding some complementary scoring and some much needed creativity on the powerplay. And unlike in Columbus, that will be good enough.
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I'm liking these new guys. Hope they can put things together. (Side note: Ah, Nik Zherdev. I miss that dude.)
Brassard also has a huge tank of potential that Ken Hitchcock and CBJ were totally squandering. I think the fact that he's not under pressure here (he still is, but not nearly as much, surprisingly) he can finally bloom.
Well said and I think this move can be an under the radar move where a guy changes teams & reaches his potential. Think Ryan Mcdonough. Brassard has high end talent meaning he can become a 80-90 point guy. He has the talent & now that he is on a better team surrounded by better players, he might become that guy. If not I agree he will be a 60-point guy w-us & will make our PP better.
I really hope Brassard keeps his gloves on. That was a royal ass kicking which could only lead to injury. I appreciate the fact he stood up for Tyutin, but he doesn't do the team any good by sitting in the trainers room.
I understand and agree with most of what you're saying but pressure in NY and MSG, even for a 3rd line center has got to be pressure, albeit a different kind than you are talking about, than it is in a small market like Columbus.
Last game excited me because it was fun to watch, let's see if they can keep that up tonight. Ill tell you one thing the pens got embarrassed at the garden, and even without Crosby they are one of the best teams in the NHL they are going to come out firing tonight, especially at home. I would just really love to see the rangers play with the same intensity they did on Wednesday. Fighting, hitting, getting to the front of the net. For one net i got the same feeling about this team as I did last year... They gotta keep it up! LGR
thing I like about Brassard is that his on ice awareness is out of this world. The backhand pass to Ryane Clowe gave me goosbumps, that kid has quite a set of hands. If he plays well, we've got some serious depth to contend with, I can't remember the last time I was able to say that.
If he can continue his play and be physical he may be another "missing" piece in our quest for the cup (my humble opinion before the season started was that we were 2 grinding forwards who can score and one cannon on the blue line short of a cup ready team). that would be 2 out of 3 filled and you can get by without the scoring Dman if everything else is solid. If things come together we can do this. Too soon to know. LGR
Not thrilled to read that he did not perform well in a defensive system. Concern being that Torts breaks his spirit in the way that Hitchcock did. Biggest concern with he new guys is that Torts gets into their heads to the point where they tend towards mediocrity due to being afraid to make a mistake.
Great recap. I was really wondering about his story, so I liked this write-up. I think he showed HUGE talent in that first game. Reminded me of Stepan a little with his vision. I completely agree he could be a 60pt guy. Question is: does he play a complete game (and I'm not talking backchecking; I'm talking going to the corners). If he doesn't, he'll be right back in chateau bow-bow as long as Torts is coach.
Shoulder surgeries are scary for hockey players. The Neal fight / injury / set back goes to show how close Ryan Callahan came to something really bad when he fought with Talbot.
One final thing: there are no expectations until you create them by playing well. If he comes to NY and does well, then we will all expect that from him in perpetuity, so weirdly, the pressure comes around eventually.
@sureshore some people feed off that type of pressure because they like to be in the spotlight, hopefully this kid is one of them.
@PenaltySh0t if this guy Dorset is what they say... Idk where asham fits in when he is healthy or next year, also I think pyatt has to be moved. We have so much depth lol. It's a good thing, not to mention all these kids that are coming next year, Lindberg, fasth, kreider, miller, mcilrath, st. Croix, Thomas... The list goes on
@Betweentheworlds Agreed. REALLY excited about this team now. LET's GO NOW. TO THE EFFING CUP.
@greggray24 Hitchcock's system isn't the same as Torts'. Hitchcock is similar to Renney where he didn't trust young guys, and relied way too much on veterans. Also, Hitchcock just sucked the offense out of everybody, he would play guys like Nash on the penalty kill (WHY?), he had no idea how to play to anyone's strengths which is why he failed there.
@greggray24 Yeah, that is a concern alright - an intangible in the game of hockey that seems to go right over his head.
@greggray24 Torts' system is not even close to Hitchcock's in terms of defensive responsibility. Obviously, Torts is going to hol him accountable, but Hitchcock had him basically playing the role that Brian Boyle does. Which is ridiculous for a playmaking center. Brassard is not a shutdown center and he never will be. Torts won't let him float, but Brassard isn't really a floater.
@KevinDeLury as much of a prick he is James Neal's a tough guy.
@KevinDeLury Looked like his shoulder dislocated immediately and he had given up. Not saying he would have won the fight, but it's pretty obvious why he was beaten so badly.
@ChrisP I think you'll like Dorsett when he comes back - he's tough as nails and hits just about everything on 2 skates
@rangersfan he works very hard. In Columbus he fought in the corners and played a hard forecheck, not like he got much help but yes he'll fit in nicely.
@rangersfan A big thing I noticed about him, besides the nice passes and goal, he was ALWAYS in front of the net(his goal and assist to Clowe were because of him being in front). Seems to me he is more than willing to grind and get physical to make things happen.
@Herman_NYRBlog @greggray24 generally, I am not a doomsayer and support Torts most of the time...however, this situation has the potential to either work out great or go very badly. We all read about how the new guys had no time to acclimate and just went on instinct (i.e., not Torts' "system") in their first game, and it could not have gone better...now, if there is a steady drop-off in production, you know that it will be made into an indictment of Torts and his system...I'm starting to think that with 12 games left, it may be better to just "wing it" and let the boys play - loosen the reins and take a shot. That doesn't mean to forsake all defense and responsibility, but maybe open things up a little more and ease up on punishing mistakes. Not sure Torts can do it, but it worked for Tom Coughlin.
@Herman_NYRBlog Good to hear. Based on Tort's press conference it does seem like he gets the notion of letting these guys play.
@ChristopherHart Ok, thought it happened at the end.
@ChristopherHart Good point. Even Pierre Macguire pointed out that he knew a hit was coming when he scored that goal, so clearly, he's willing to take a hit to make a play. That's step 1.
Step 2 is: is he willing to go to the corners with a purpose and a mean streak, they way Miller, Callahan, Dubinsky, Clowe, even Stepan, Nash and Hagelin do. They go there not just to stick their sticks in between people's legs and dislodge a puck. They go there to inflict pain and make the other guy surrender. That's NHL hockey. That's what Torts wants; that's what he wants from all his players - guys like Kreider who didn't do that at first but learned to do it on their second go around. He taught Del Zotto to do that and turned him into a really good player. I applaud Torts for holding his players to that standard (even though he's a douche for the way he treats the media).
@smoothyv @Herman_NYRBlog @greggray24 I think in today's game Torts' system is fundamentally very sound as long as he sticks to the working definition of "system"; a structure of play provided by the coaching staff. A good system, especially in a lightning fast sport needs to provide room for spontaneity and creativity. I think our coach knows this but has a history of trying to over-control things IMHO and then it becomes a "style" which is a rigid patterning of movements. (See Bruce Lee's masterpiece "The Tao of Jeet Kune Do - it's very succinct in describing the meaning of "system" vs. "style" and make no mistake about it, like Gung Fu Hockey is a warrior art). Now Torts has more players who can play his game - as long as he has learned from his prior faults (again IMHO) and teaches them the fundamentals of the system but gives them the space to play their game this current group of Rangers will go very far.