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Brassard understands situation, aims to contribute with Panthers

Forward, acquired from Penguins, could be traded again before Deadline

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Derick Brassard intends to make himself at home for however long he's with the Florida Panthers.

So though Brassard knows his time in Florida might be limited, he and fellow newcomer Riley Sheahan plan to move into an apartment Monday.

"No one wants to live in a hotel for a couple weeks," Brassard said. "It kind of gets old."

Brassard and Sheahan have been living in a hotel since the Panthers acquired them in a trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins for forwards Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann on Feb. 1.

But with the Panthers (23-23-8) nine points behind the Penguins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference and Brassard and Sheahan eligible to become unrestricted free agents July 1, it appears likely they'll be on the move again before the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 25 at 3 p.m. ET.

Brassard acknowledged the situation is a bit strange, but the 31-year-old forward is trying to make the best of it.

 

[RELATED: Brassard, Sheahan traded to Panthers by Penguins for Bjugstad, McCann | Trade Tracker]

"Basically, whatever's going to happen in a couple weeks I can't really control that," he said. "But what I can control right now is to help this team."

Brassard scored his first goal with the Panthers in a 5-4 overtime win at the Washington Capitals on Saturday and has three points (one goal, two assists) in five games since the trade. But Florida's 6-2-0 surge ended with a 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday.

That was the first game of a seven-game homestand that continues against the Dallas Stars at BB&T Center on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, FS-SW, NHL.TV). Brassard's future might be determined before the homestand ends against the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 23.

After completing the trade with the Penguins, general manager Dale Tallon said if the Panthers climb back into the playoff race, Brassard and Sheahan would stay, but otherwise they'd be traded for assets for the future.

"We can't start to fall back anymore, so we've got to stay on top of it and go game-by-game, week-by-week," Tallon said Feb. 1. "Then we'll decide before the deadline what we're going to do. Performance will dictate what we do with these players."

If Brassard is traded again, it would be his third time in a year and fourth time in less than three years.

Video: FLA@WSH: Brassard earns first goal with the Panthers

The New York Rangers traded him to the Ottawa Senators on July 18, 2016, for center Mika Zibanejad. When Brassard saw last season that the Senators were embarking on a rebuild, he asked to be traded and they shipped him to the Penguins in a three-way deal that also involved the Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 23, 2018.

Brassard was expected to fill Pittsburgh's third-line center hole behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but it didn't work out as hoped. In 54 regular-season games over the past two seasons with the Penguins, Brassard had 23 points (12 goals, 11 assists).

He had four points (one goal, three assists) in 12 playoff games with the Penguins last season, when they had their bid to win the Stanley Cup in three consecutive seasons ended by the Capitals in the Eastern Conference Second Round. When Brassard struggled again this season, with 15 points (nine goals, six assists) in 40 games before the trade, he and Penguins GM Jim Rutherford agreed it would be best to move him.

"I left Ottawa because all this stuff was going on around the team and everything, and I wasn't really interested in being part of that," Brassard said. "In Pittsburgh, it wasn't really a good fit either. I'm just trying to find the right fit and everything."

Selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets with the No. 6 pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, Brassard played his best when he had a top-six role as a center during his four seasons with the Rangers, getting 174 points (69 goals, 105 assists) in 254 regular-season games. The 6-foot-1, 202-pound native of Hull, Quebec earned a reputation as a strong playoff performer with 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists) in 59 postseason games with New York and continued that by getting 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 19 games during Ottawa's run to the Eastern Conference Final in 2017.

But Brassard wasn't going to supplant Crosby or Malkin as one of the Penguins' top two centers and is in a similar situation with Florida with Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck as the top two centers. The past two games, Brassard has played left wing on the top line with Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov.

"He's been true pro and he's been honest about it," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "He knows the situation here and he's been around for a while and been traded a couple times, so he knows the business side of things as well. But he's all in. He's worked hard for us and he's a likeable guy and a good teammate. He's come to the rink every day prepared to help us win and that's all you can ask."

Brassard said it doesn't matter to him if he plays wing or center. He'd have value at either position as a rental for a playoff-bound team.

If that's not the Panthers, his stay in his new apartment will be brief, but for now he's enjoying the change of scenery.

"I feel like I've been more myself and made some plays having the chance to play with some good players and being in a better situation," Brassard said. "When you're in that situation I think as a player you have more chance to succeed, and the last couple games I felt really good out there."

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