Center Derick Brassard was on his way to a training session Monday when he got a text from former New York Rangers teammate Martin St. Louis. It wasn't an ordinary text.
"He was just telling me, 'Good luck in Ottawa. I think it's going to be good for you. They're an up-and-coming team,'" Brassard said Monday on TSN 1200 Radio. "I was like, 'Oh, I guess I'm traded to Ottawa.'"
Brassard would get the official word a few minutes later that he and a 2018 NHL Draft pick had been traded to the Ottawa Senators for forward Mika Zibanejad and a pick.
He said he had heard rumors for a few weeks about a possible trade with the Rangers and Senators but didn't know for sure until he got the text from St. Louis. Brassard said his agent and Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton were trying to reach him before St. Louis did.
"My family's pretty happy," said Brassard, who is from Hull, Quebec. "I'm just excited to come there and get it done. I'm just excited to come home."
Video: Breaking down the Rangers trade with the Senators
Brassard, who will turn 29 on Sept. 22, leaves the Rangers after parts of four seasons that included a trip to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. Last season, he scored a team-high 27 goals for the Rangers, who were eliminated in the Eastern Conference First Round by the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games.
Brassard said he is excited to play for the Senators, something he has thought about ever since Ottawa reached the 2007 Stanley Cup Final against the Anaheim Ducks.
"A long time ago when I was younger, when the Sens made the push to the Stanley Cup Final, [my agent] brought me to one of those games," Brassard said. "I just fell in love with the atmosphere there, the rink. From that moment, I was like, 'Maybe one day I'll play here.'"
Selected in the first round (No. 6) by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2006 NHL Draft, Brassard played parts of five seasons in Columbus before being traded to New York in 2012-13. He said he is very familiar with many Senators players.
"I know a lot of guys. I was skating with them in the summers," Brassard said. "I got to know [defenseman] Cody Ceci and [forward] Mark Stone at the World Championship this summer. I got along with those two guys really well. I know [forward] Mike Hoffman from junior, I know [Jean-Gabriel] Pageau from living in Hull and kind of grew up in the same city as him.
"I really like the balance of their team. I think they have a really good mix there. They have a lot of young guys coming up. But I do think this team is mature now and we have to win next season."
Video: Rosen breaks down the Brassard for Zibanejad trade
Brassard has a connection with new Ottawa coach Guy Boucher; he played for him with Drummondville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2006-07.
"I had a really good relationship with Guy in junior. He's a really good coach," Brassard said. "He's going to bring [out], I think, the best of everyone in the dressing room. That's one of his things. That's Guy. He's going to push the team and we're going to try and make the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup."
Brassard said he is also excited to play with two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, whom Brassard calls "the best offensive [defenseman] in the League."
"I'm going to try and find him as much as I can. Even if he plays defense, I'm going to try and find him because he's always up the ice and he's a good skater," Brassard said. "I'm excited to play with Erik as well."
General manager Pierre Dorion said bringing in Brassard will not only make the Senators better but allows them to help the team in other areas.
"It gives us flexibility to do a lot of things," Dorion said. "At the same time, we didn't control the fact that (agent) Allan Walsh got a front-loaded deal for Derick Brassard two years ago. We can't control the fact that the Rangers paid $13 million in the first two years of a five-year, $25 million deal. The reason we did this deal was to make us a better hockey team. If it allows us to do other things, even better. That was our thinking behind it when we were talking."