I know what you’re thinking, why would the New York Rangers trade a center if a center is their biggest priority this offseason? Well, hear me out.
Derick Brassard, who just yesterday filed for salary arbitration with his teammates Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider, is said to be looking for a 3-4 year deal worth $4.5-5 million per year. For a second/third line center, there is no way the Rangers can or should give Brassard that type of deal. Derek Stepan, who is currently the Rangers’ top center, only makes just over $3 million per year and Brassard wants close to $2 million more per year than him? If Rangers’ GM Glen Sather gives Brassard what he wants, no matter how much you like him or not, it is a bad deal for the Rangers.
Now, with not many free agent centers left on the market, hardly any even to begin with, and the Rangers looking for not just any center but a number one center, it looks as if one can only be acquire via trade.
If the top two number one centers on the Rangers’ radar, being San Jose Sharks‘ Joe Thornton and Carolina Hurricanes‘ Eric Staal, were trade, that would very likely mean the end of Brassard as a Ranger. Whether salary is retained in any of the deals or not, there is no way the Rangers can afford to pay a number three center $4.5-5 million per season. There is just no way.
I know many Rangers’ fans will not like it if Brassard is not a Ranger this upcoming season because of last year’s third line that everyone fell in love with. Brassard with Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot was the Rangers best line last season, but with Pouliot leaving for the money to join the Edmonton Oilers, the Rangers probably feel that keeping Brassard is not a must since they were not able to keep the third line from last season intact.
If Brassard goes, “who will replace him?” many Rangers’ fans would ask, but with centers J.T. Miller and Oscar Lindberg ready to make the jump to the NHL, Brassard can be replaced. So, the Rangers have second and third line centers in the AHL who can replace Brassard, but what the Rangers do not have in the AHL is a future number one center.
I am not saying Brassard is definitely on the move, but I am also saying do not be shocked if he is.