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Brassard Wings West to Help Center Coyotes

Veteran addition brings versatility and offensive upside

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

Derick Brassard likes where the Coyotes are going.

"I think this team is heading in the right direction," Brassard said, addressing local media for the first time.

"It just made sense for me to come here. I'm looking forward to meeting my new teammates."

General Manager Bill Armstrong announced the signing of Brassard to a one-year contract Wednesday afternoon.

The addition of Brassard provides offensive upside. He is a veteran forward capable of playing multiple positions.

Brassard, 33, played last season with the New York Islanders. He has 483 points (186G, 297A) in his 13-year, 852-game NHL career.

"(Derick) gives our club a skilled forward that can play on our top two lines," Armstrong said. "His versatility - he can play on the left wing or center. Last year for the Islanders, he played on the wing and was successful." 

Brassard, who arrived in Arizona Tuesday, watched the Coyotes in the playoffs last year and liked what he saw. 

"What I like is that from the goalies up, they don't give up a lot," he said. "The back-end is pretty strong. They have their number one defenseman in (Oliver) Ekman-Larsson, their captain, and they have a good mix of young players and veteran guys." 

Brassard will complement a Coyotes center-man depth chart that includes Christian Dvorak, Nick Schmaltz, Johan Larsson and Barrett Hayton. 

"Up front, I see a lot of young guys with good potential," Brassard said. "(Clayton) Keller, Schmaltz, and a good mix of speed and grit. Four lines that can play every night. That's what I saw in the playoffs last year. I'm excited to be here."

Armstrong believes Brassard will help guide the team's youthful core. 

"We're young down the middle," Armstrong said. "And I think (bringing in Brassard) really does help, along with the addition of assistant coach Cory Stillman, who will really focus on our centermen. 

"When you invest in the middle of the ice, good things happen. So, he's going to be one of those guys that's going to help those young centermen along. He can really factor in with his knowledge of the game."

The Hull, Quebec, native has made eight playoff appearances, amassing 117 postseason games, including a run to the Stanley Cup Final with the New York Rangers in 2014. He played in 18 playoff games in the Islanders' run to the Eastern Conference Final last season.

Brassard also was a member of the gold medal-winning Canadian team at the 2016 IIHF World Championships.

He is not unfamiliar with Coyotes Antti Raanta, a teammate of his with the New York Rangers, and fellow Québécois Jason Demers, whom he played against in the QMJHL. Brassard is looking forward to reuniting with Phil Kessel, who was a teammate in Pittsburgh from 2018-19. 

"I really enjoy Phil and his personality," Brassard said. "He's one of the funniest guys I've played with. Looking forward to seeing him again." 

Brassard's NHL resume is impressive. But Armstrong has been tracking the newest Coyote since his junior hockey days in the early 2000s.

"I go way back with this player," Armstrong said. "I know him a lot better than he knows me. When I first got heavily into scouting, he was playing in Drummondville, Quebec. He was such a fun player to watch in junior with his skill level. He's just grown on me ever since. We had a chance to get him, and he really complements this group in the sense that he can go play center or wing on the top two lines."

Brassard won't join Coyotes until the second day of training camp; he must abide by NHL-mandated quarantine protocols. He knows he and the team has its work cut out for them, but he is excited and optimistic.

He believes the team can continue to grow from its playoff experience last season.

"There's no easy night in the NHL," he said. "I think our start -- the first 10 games -- is going to be really important for this team. I think we have to be sharp from training camp from day one. But I'm confident we're going to play well."

Lead Photo Credit: Andy Devlin - NHLI via Getty Images // Second Photo Credit: Chase Agnello-Dean - NHLI via Getty Images // Third Photo Credit: Andy Devlin - NHLI via Getty Images // Fourth Photo Credit: Joe Sargent - NHLI via Getty Images // Footer Photo Credit: Gregory Fisher - Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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