Jim Rutherford has done it again.
To get Derick Brassard without giving up Sprong or Sheary is absolutely incredible. It was thought that it would take both of them to get Brassard to Pittsburgh. Replacing Sprong with Gustavsson and Sheary with Cole is simply sensational.
It’s a very fair deal, which is hard to find at the trade deadline. This trade is a win for the Penguins, and there’s no doubt about it.
Brassard instantly makes the deepest forward group in the NHL that much better. Riley Sheahan is playing like a 3C right now. He’s playing every bit as good as Nick Bonino. The Penguins would’ve probably been okay going into the playoffs with Sheahan as their third center.
Okay? Yes. Ideal? No.
With the potential to win a historical third straight Stanley Cup, do you really want to take the chance that Sheahan might not be able to keep up this pace of play come playoffs? I never thought Sheahan would play this well, and I’m happy that he’s proved me wrong so far. However, this team only gets one more shot at winning with the current group as it’s constructed. Hornqvist will likely move on in free agency, young players won’t be on these bargain contracts forever and you might never have Crosby, Malkin and Kessel all playing at an MVP level simultaneously ever again.
This Penguins team has the potential to be even better than the last two. Adding Derick Brassard pushes them over the top. Brassard is more talented than any 3C the Penguins have had since Jordan Staal. He’s offensive-minded, but solid defensively. His offensive numbers would explode behind the two best centers of this era. We’re already seeing what Riley Sheahan, who scored two goals in 80 games with Detroit, can do with those easier match-ups. Brassard would likely dwarf Sheahan’s production in the same role. Sheahan has been great, but he’d be even better suited as the Penguins 4C. He’d instantly become the best fourth center in the league and bring back the Penguins’ potential to roll four scoring lines. Sheahan could also be deployed in more of a shutdown defensive role, where he absolutely thrives.
Derick Brassard makes the perfect third center for this team and what could be a historical third straight Stanley Cup run.