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Derick Brassard 'kind of shocked' to join Senators

Traded by Rangers, forward adds experience, left-handed shot to hometown team

by Chris Stevenson / Correspondent

OTTAWA -- Derick Brassard didn't expect to be traded to the Ottawa Senators by the New York Rangers.

"I was kind of shocked," he said Friday when he was introduced to Ottawa media and presented with his No. 19 Senators jersey.

Brassard, 28, was traded to the Senators on July 18 with a seventh-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft for center Mika Zibanejad and a second-round pick in 2018.

Brassard worked out in Greenwich, Conn., that morning and was heading home. He didn't have his phone. When he checked it, there was a message from former Rangers teammate Martin St. Louis.

"[St. Louis'] first text was like, 'I think Ottawa is an up-and-coming team. I think it's going to be good for you.' And I was like, 'What is he talking about?'" Brassard said. "After that, my phone started blowing up.

"I'm really excited to be here. It's a proud moment for me and my family to be here and have a chance to play for the Sens. I'm just really, really excited.

Tweet from @Media_Sens: Newest #Sens forward looking good in his new threads.

"I like the mix of our team. I think we have a little bit of everything. We're big and strong, we're tough and we have some skill with speed up front."

The seeds for the trade were planted in April when Senators general Pierre Dorion called Rangers GM Jeff Gorton to ask about his working relationship with Rangers president Glen Sather, who was the GM prior to Gorton. In April, Bryan Murray shifted from Senators GM to an adviser role, with Dorion replacing him. 

"I probably have the same kind of working relationship with Bryan," Dorion said. "We started talking and I said, 'Glen and Bryan have never made a deal, according to Bryan. So how about you and I make a deal?'"

Brassard, born in Hull, Quebec, across the Ottawa River from Ottawa, said he's looking forward to playing close to home. 

"Playing in front of my friends and family is going to give me another edge to my game," he said. "I think I'm in the prime of my career right now and I think that's one of the reasons [the Senators] came to get me. I want to show everyone they made a good choice."

Dorion said having a player play in his hometown "definitely adds something. But if Derick had been from Vancouver, I don't think it would have mattered." 

Video: The crew compares Brassard and Zibanejad

What mattered to the Senators was Brassard's experience and left-handed shot. 

Dorion said the need for more experience came from exit meetings with players in April. Brassard is five years older than 23-year-old Zibanejad and played in the Stanley Cup Final in 2014. His 47 Stanley Cup Playoff games the past three seasons are tied for the 18th in the League and more than any other Ottawa player in that span.

"A lot of players were telling us, 'I think we can be a good team in two or three years,'" Dorion said. "That was a bit bothersome for me because I think we can be a good team now and getting Derick makes us a much better team right now.

"We were the pesky Sens, we're young and hungry. Now it's our team's time to show we can win."

Having a left-handed center also should help whoever plays right wing on Brassard's line. Brassard likely will slot in on the second line; first-line center Kyle Turris and third-line center Jean-Gabriel Pageau are right-handed shots.

Dorion said the pursuit of a lefthanded-shooting center was based in part on conversations with former Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, now a Senators adviser, and Hockey Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur.

"My favorite right winger of all time is Daniel Alfredsson, and you talk to him and he'll tell you having a left-handed center is always something he wanted to have here in Ottawa," Dorion said. "A lot of really good right wingers -- I remember talking to Guy Lafleur once about it, having Jacques Lemaire as his center -- that can only help them because [the center] is on his strong side passing the puck to a right winger.

"Whether it's Bobby Ryan, whether it's Mark Stone, maybe it's Curtis Lazar, Chris Neil [on the right wing with Brassard], whomever [coach] Guy [Boucher] decides, that's up to him. We're just trying to give as many good pieces to the puzzle to have Guy succeed coaching."

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