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Rangers see upside in trade for Mika Zibanejad

New York sends Derick Brassard, seventh-round pick to Ottawa for young forward, second-round pick @NHLdotcom

NEW YORK -- In an effort to get younger with an eye on potential, the New York Rangers on Monday acquired forward Mika Zibanejad and a second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft from the Ottawa Senators in a trade for forward Derick Brassard and a 2018 seventh-round pick.

Zibanejad had NHL career bests of 21 goals, 30 assists and 51 points last season, and won 50.4 percent of his faceoffs. Zibanejad, who turned 23 a week after last regular season ended, and Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan were the only players 22 or younger to score 20 goals and win at least 50 percent of his faceoffs (minimum 1,000).

Zibanejad raised his goal total three straight seasons, and combined with being five years younger than Brassard, the Rangers feel they've acquired a player on the rise.

"I think the potential is there for more upside," New York general manager Jeff Gorton said. "He's just scratching the surface at age 23. There's not a lot of guys that have done what he's done as far as score 20 before that age. He kills penalties. He's really emerged on the draws. Since he's come in, he's gotten better every year, and I think we're just scratching the surface. … This is a trade where we felt like we're getting younger, we're getting a player that has upside, and we really like the way he's trending."

Video: Rosen breaks down the Brassard for Zibanejad trade

In five seasons with the Senators, Zibanejad had 64 goals and 151 points in 281 games. He was selected by Ottawa with the No. 6 pick of the 2011 NHL Draft.

Zibanejad has a $2.625 million NHL salary-cap charge this season, the last of his contract, according to General Fanager. He can become a restricted free agent after the season.

Brassard, 28, has a $5 million salary-cap charge for the next three seasons, meaning the Rangers are saving $2.375 million this season.

"You can say it's cap space if that's the way you want to look at it," Gorton said. "But for us, this is a younger player that is almost six years younger that's coming off two 20-goal seasons that we think is heading to the prime of his career. The ability to get him, to get a younger player, to get a guy that's fast, big (6-foot-2, 222 pounds), plays real well in his own zone, can do a lot of things for us, that's the exciting piece. The fact that we have salary-cap space is good and we'll look at everything now."

Brassard, 28, led the Rangers last season with 27 goals, the most he's scored in an NHL season, and eight power-play goals, and was second with 58 points (Mats Zuccarello, 61). Brassard had four points in five Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"We felt Mika has great potential down the road, but we felt with Derick we were getting someone that was more proven, and a better hockey player at this point in time," Senators GM Pierre Dorion said, according to Pro Hockey Talk. "Our ultimate goal is to make the playoffs again, and we feel Derick's going to help us make the playoffs."

Video: Breaking down the Rangers trade with the Senators

He was born in Hull, Quebec, on the other side of the Ottawa River from Ottawa.

"I really like the look of this team," Brassard told the Senators website. "I'm very happy to join the Sens and to able to play at home."

Since joining New York in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 3, 2013, Brassard's 69 goals are second on the Rangers to Rick Nash's 91, and his 174 points are third behind Derek Stepan (182) and Zuccarello (176). Brassard's 254 games are the most on the Rangers in that span.

"Derick Brassard has been a real good player for us," Gorton said. "That trade that we made for him kind of coincided with a lot of good years, a lot of success for him and us. He was a real good player here and a real good guy."

Selected by the Blue Jackets with the No. 6 pick of the 2006 NHL Draft, Brassard had 127 goals and 343 points in 563 games with the Blue Jackets and Rangers. He had 18 goals and 44 points in 59 playoff games.

"He's the left-handed center that we've coveted for a few years," Dorion said. "Left-handed centers will make it easier to get the puck to our right wingers, and we have two pretty good ones in Mark Stone and Bobby Ryan."

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