Derick Brassard has arrived on Long Island. The Isles newest addition, who signed a one-year deal with the Islanders on Aug. 21 as an unrestricted free agent, joined his teammates on Tuesday morning for an informal skate at Northwell Health Ice Center. After hopping around last season from Pittsburgh to Florida to Colorado, the 31-year-old veteran center is embracing the fresh opportunity at hand.
"It's just an exciting time in general," said Brassard, who will number 10 this season. "Now, I'm with a new team and I'm just excited to meet my new teammates and have a fresh start. I had a really good summer of workouts. It's just about going out there and having fun."
Returning to New York evokes emotion for the left-shot after spending parts of four seasons from 2012-2016 with the Rangers. Brassard enjoyed the lifestyle of living in New York, spent some summer weekends out east on Long Island and played some of his best hockey to-date. The shifty playmaker posted a career-high 60 points (19G, 41A) in 2015 and followed up with a 58-point campaign (27G, 31A) in 2016. After arriving back to New York on Friday afternoon, Brassard spent Labor Day Weekend in New York City catching up with some former teammates and headed out to Long Island to house-hunt.
"I got here on Friday and [spent the weekend] in the city to see some of my old friends," Brassard said. "I'm still looking at places. Hopefully, I'll have something before training camp next week."
After playing for the Islanders crosstown rivals for four seasons and playing just under two years with another Metropolitan Division foe in Pittsburgh, Brassard is no stranger to the Islanders core group, as an opponent. This summer, he started getting to know the team from the inside, as the Hull, Quebec native played with Anthony Beauvillier in the 3-on-3 Montreal Pro League. Beauvillier provided insight regarding the Islanders newly-adopted structured and detail-oriented culture implemented by President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello and Head Coach Barry Trotz last summer.
"I skated with [Beauvillier] a few times this summer," Brassard said. "I asked him a few questions just about the team and everything. I'm excited to be here and to meet all of those guys. I've faced that same [core] group for many years whether it was with New York or Pittsburgh. I'm pretty familiar with the way they play. I think [the Islanders style] fits really well with me."
Coming off of a 23-point (14G, 9A) season, the aftermath of battling a series of injuries and five different residencies since 2018, Brassard is looking forward to some consistency, a set role and the opportunity to rediscover his previous form. Brassard identified with the Islanders systems and foundations of structure, accountability and commitment as further reasons he's excited to be on the Island.
"I met with [Lamoriello and Trotz] earlier this summer," Brassard said. "That's what I liked about this summer was that was what I knew what to expect from this team and what was going to be my role. I think this team plays four lines, they play everyone, they play all of their d's, they played both goalies last year. That fits really well with me."
Over the years, Brassard has adopted to playing a variety of roles. Whether it's at his natural center position among the top six and a fixture on the power play or shifting to the outside as a winger and grinding on the penalty kill, Brassard has made the necessary adjustments when asked of him. His humble work ethic aligns with the team-first mentality of the Islanders culture and he hopes to thrive as a byproduct of the purposive climate.
"It was just tough timing from that year last year and bouncing around everywhere," Brassard said. "When I look back, I feel like I almost didn't play last season because I moved so many times. It was impossible to get going. But I know what I can do out there. I know I can help this team. When I was talking about getting a role, I just have to go back and play my game. I think this team fits my game really well. I'm just excited to get the season started."