OTTAWA – Nine years ago Derick Brassard watched the Ottawa Senators compete for the Stanley Cup, now he plans to be part of the team that gets them back to the playoffs.
The Senators acquired Brassard from the New York Rangers last month in a trade for Mika Zibanejad and the 28-year-old centre can’t wait to get started with his new team.
Born and raised in nearby Gatineau, Que., Brassard grew up watching the Senators and recalled seeing many games.
“I came to many games with my dad and my family, but there’s one time my agent was representing Martin Havlat at the time and that’s the year they went to the Cup final and he brought me to one of the games in the playoffs and I couldn’t believe the atmosphere and everything,” Brassard told reporters on Friday. “Hopefully I’m going to play in one of those games as a player.”
The Senators are confident Brassard will give the team the needed depth at centre they’ve been searching for.
“First, and foremost, he brings a left-handed centreman and we haven’t had a playmaking-type left-handed centreman for quite a few years,” said Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion. “He brings experience and he brings a love and passion for the game. He improves our top six forwards right away.”
Dorion liked the makeup of his team before the trade, but wasn’t thrilled by comments made at the end of the season.
“Over the exit interviews a lot of players were telling us, ‘Yeah, I think we’re going to be a good team in two or three years,'” said Dorion. “That was a bit bothersome for me because I think we can be a good team now and I think getting Derick makes us a much better team right now.”
Brassard scored 27 goals and 48 points last season with the Rangers, but just as important brings experience and leadership something Ottawa lacked last season.
“It was very important to add someone with experience,” Dorion said. “When you look at his track record in the playoffs, especially over the last few years in the playoffs where he’s been one of the Rangers best performers, best players was something that we definitely looked at that. We’re looking to make the playoffs, but we’re also looking to have a really solid chance to win in the playoffs.”
Brassard knew changes were likely after New York was eliminated in the first round, but was still taken by surprise when he learned of the trade.
“I was kind of shocked,” Brassard said. “I was coming back from training that morning and I didn’t have my phone on me. After a little while I just looked at my phone and I saw Martin St. Louis, his first text, said ‘Ottawa is an upcoming team and I think it’s going to be good for you.’ I was like, ‘What’s he talking about and stuff like that?’ After that my phone just started blowing up.”
Added Brassard: “I’m really excited to be here. It’s a proud moment for me and my family to be here and have the chance to play for the Sens. I’m just really, really excited.”
Negotiations remain ongoing as the Senators look to sign defenceman Cody Ceci. Dorion said he and agent J.P. Barry continue to exchange emails
“We’re still looking at different angles and what we can do for contract, but I have a lot of faith,” said Dorion. “It’s taken a bit longer than I anticipated. I think maybe J.P. is trying to test me as a first time GM, even though I’ve done quite a bit of contracts before, so I think he’ll be playing for us Oct. 12th. I think within the next few we’ll get something done.”
Dorion is also looking to add a depth defenceman prior to the start of the season.