For all of the things to love about Derick Brassard's career year in 2014-15, here's my favorite part: there's a good chance that the best is yet to come from the likable and talented center, who was the team's second leading scorer in the regular season before pacing the Rangers with nine goals and 16 points in the playoffs.
Brassard will not turn 28 years of age until training camp is underway in the fall, so he is right in the middle of the prime years of his career. He has gotten better as he matured as a pro and has thrived since the Rangers acquired him from Columbus in a deadline deal in 2013. Brassard loves the big-game spotlight and being a big-time player on an Original Six team. An ardent student of the game, Brassard is also constantly looking for ways to be a better player and a more complete professional.
Add to the mix that he has been extremely durable — missing only three games since first donning the Blueshirt — and you have a whole host of reasons why it would appear Brassard's game is going to continue on an upward and high trajectory in the years to come.
And fortunately those seasons will happen with Brassard — still in the early stages of a long-term contract — wearing a Rangers sweater.
Brassard established career highs with 19 goals, 41 assists, and 60 points this past season. He also logged the highest average ice-time of his career (17:24), stepping up in a big way when Derek Stepan missed the first month of the season and he was the team's lone veteran offensive threat at center. He proceeded to form excellent chemistry with Rick Nash, who scored a career-high 42 goals, and once again led the Rangers in power play points.
Come playoff time Brassard established career-high in goals and points, and, of course, had that memorable night down in Tampa where he scored three goals and finished with five points as the Rangers kept their season alive with a a 7-3 victory in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final.
The Hull, Quebec native had never appeared in a single post-season contest until he joined the Rangers; and since then he has recorded 40 points in 54 playoff games. He has led the Blueshirts in playoff scoring twice--in 2013 and 2015--and in the one spring he didn't lead the team in that category Brassard still scored a string of memorable goals, including two winners against the Penguins in Round Two as the Rangers eventually reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2014.
Yes, Brassard--and the rest of his teammates--were shut out by Tampa Bay with the season again on the line in Game 7 of the ECF, and failed to return to the Cup Final this spring, but here's what's more to love about Brassard: in the aftermath of that defeat he was extremely accountable for not doing more, not getting the job done offensively. And you just know that this will eat at him all summer and drive him to be even better, even more clutch, next season--and next time there is a big-game opportunity, hopefully deep into the playoffs next spring.
You look at that trade on April 3, 2013 that brought Brassard to New York and it really feels like a home run. Yes, Marian Gaborik won a Stanley Cup after leaving the Rangers--in fact, against the Rangers--but he was hurt and ineffective in Columbus after the Blueshirts dealt him away for Brassard and two others. Derek Dorsett and John Moore played roles on the Rangers team that made a run to the Cup Final; but even though neither is a Blueshirt any more doesn't take away from the fact that everything Brassard has brought to New York--on and off the ice--has made this trade a winner for the Rangers.
The fact that the best is yet to come with Derick Brassard makes it all the more better.