The Rangers are in a tough spot with Derick Brassard. He’s a restricted free agent who is arbitration eligible, yet he really shouldn’t be paid much more than his qualifying offer of $3.7 million. But Brassard is likely seeking more than that on a long-term contract to buyout years in free agency. My best guess is he will be looking for something along the lines of Bryan Little‘s five year, $23.5 million ($4.7 AAV). At that ticket, the Rangers really can’t afford Brassard this year and it could very likely prove to be an onerous contract in the future.
The organization most definitely does need Brassard though; next season and into the future. He is their second line center on a Rangers team that is currently extremely thin down the middle with no impact center prospects coming in the immediate future. He has also proven to be a solid power play contributor on a team whose power play has been a point of emphasis this summer. Brassard’s 3.24 power play P/60 ranked 24th for center’s in the NHL last season. A mark that was higher than the rates Joe Pavelski, Phil Kessel, and Anze Kopitar produced.
However, Brassard’s 1.48 P/60 at even strength isn’t spectacular. His production rate at even strength ranked 89th in the league last year for center’s despite the fact he received the 8th most favorable offensive zone start percentage. At even strength, Brassard did less with more opportunities.
In totality, Brassard’s production and usage was very similar to Brad Richards last season. Richards was given a one year, $2 million contract by the Blackhawks. The argument here isn’t that Brassard should be given the same contract, that commitment isn’t commensurate with his value to the Rangers. But it goes to show that the Rangers best course of action may no longer be to give Brassard a long-term contract. Especially if Brassard seeks a contract well above his qualifying offer’s AAV.