Let us all call New York Rangers‘ restricted free agent center Derick Brassard for what he really is – a third line center.
The only reason why Brassard is projected to start this upcoming season on the Rangers’ second line is due to their depth at the center position, or lack thereof. The Rangers center depth is easily in the bottom half of the NHL but obviously this promotion of Brassard to the second line has gone to his head.
For a player who made $3.7 million last season, and had just $3.2 million of the $3.7 million count towards the salary cap, for some reason thinks he is owed an almost $2 million raise, as he is reportedly asking for a long term deal from the Rangers at $5.5 million per year.
Rangers’ GM Glen Sather obviously thinks this number is way too high, as does mostly everyone, which is why I think Sather is willing to let Brassard go to arbitration on Monday, July 28. While I do not think an arbitrator would be crazy enough to award Brassard $5.5 million, I do see one awarding him somewhere between $4.5-5 million, which, unfortunately, is still a high number for a player like Brassard, who recorded a total of 45 points in 81 regular season games last season.
In my honest opinion, Brassard does not deserve more money than his Rangers’ teammate and linemate, Mats Zuccarello, who accepted a one year, $3.5 million deal next season to help the Rangers out financially with the salary cap. And this after Zuccarello led the entire Rangers’ team in points with 59 last season.
Brassard should get a three to four year deal, worth $3.5 million per year, but that is just not going to happen for one big reason…the market. Good two-way centers like Brassard have become a rarity in the league now-a-days, and everyone knows if there is a shortage on something that everybody wants then obviously the price to acquire that something will be raised, in this case centers.
For example, ex-Ranger center Brandon Dubinsky recently received a contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets worth just under $6 million per year through 2021, and the Rangers’ biggest rival, the New York Islanders, signed center Mikhail Grabovski to a four year deal, worth $5 million per year. Does Dubinsky, a player who totaled 50 points last season, and Grabovski, a player who totaled 35 points last season, deserve that much money per year? Of course not, but that is just where the market for two-way centers is at.
Now back to Brassard, I’ve been hearing and reading reports of him saying that he is excited and anxious to begin this season and to try to help the Rangers win the Stanley Cup this upcoming 2014-15 season.
Well, I think if Brassard truly feels this way then he should be able to understand the Rangers’ salary cap situation and accept less money like Zuccarello did.
If Brassard does not want to take less money and brings this contract negotiation to arbitration on Monday, we can only hope the arbitrator bases his final decision on the recent Lars Eller contract extension with the Montreal Canadiens, which was four years at $3.5 million per year. But this is only wishful thinking, I’m afraid.