Derick Brassard was going through a roller coaster of a career with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He would find a coach that suited him well and he would put up points easily, yet then that coach would be replaced and he would be hard pressed to find the score-sheet at all. So was the career of Brassard up until he was traded along with John Moore and Derek Dorsett to the New York Rangers for Marian Gaborik.
Brassard found new life with John Tortorella and the Rangers. Essentially filling in the roster spot that had been vacated when Artem Anisimov was part of a package for star forward Rick Nash, Brassard started producing again. He finished the 2012-13 season with 11 points in 13 games while being the Rangers’ best forward in the playoffs with 10 assists and 12 points in 12 postseason contests. Then everything changed yet again for Brassard as Tortorella was fired and Alain Vigneault was brought in. Little did Brassard and his teammates know that the new coaching staff would be just what the team needed to get to that next level of development.
Brassard has played in a variety of roles that he was not given under Tortorella’s reign. The first advantage that would benefit Brassard is Vigneault’s approach. He is laid back and has patience, very much the opposite of Tortorella. Instead of jumbling line combinations every few games or even periods, Vigneault has let his forwards get comfortable with one another and allowed them to build a strong chemistry which has already paid dividends. Brassard has grown with Benoit Pouliot and Mats Zuccarello for most of the season and all three are producing at rates higher than expected by most. Brassard is on pace for career-highs in assists and points, and he will be looking to expand on that in the 2014-15 season.
His former coach in Columbus, Scott Arniel, was part of the new staff and was given the role of improving the Rangers’ dreadful power play. Arniel has brought in a change of philosophy, and instead of playing the players on the top lines or coach’s favorites, the players with the most skill are on the ice with the man advantage. This philosophy has worked out well as Brassard is tied with Zuccarello and Brad Richards for the team lead in power play points, including the third most goals with the man advantage for New York. Brassard is also fifth on the team in power play ice time per game with 2:29.
Brassard is finally starting to show the skill that made him the No. 6 overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. While he still has to make improvements to his game such as shooting the puck more instead of looking for that perfect pass to set up a teammate, he is advancing well with the Rangers and performing better than most were expecting. A lot of players with high skill levels cannot find a way to be successful in the NHL, but Brassard has benefited from proper coaching and good chemistry with his linemates. He is a restricted free agent going into the summer of 2014, but should re-sign with the club and look to expand his role with the Rangers in the future.