Sunday, November 20, 2011

Regarding Brassard

Brassard in a post-practice shooting drill
Derick Brassard has not had anything like the season he wanted for the Columbus Blue Jackets.  He's been all over the place, from top line center to fourth line winger.  To say he's had a rough start to the beginning of 2011-12 is to say that he is in the same boat with a lot of other Blue Jackets players.

Which is part of the reason I am writing this post.  Because in reality, it is about player development.  And the message I am trying to send here is that what Brassard is going through now is a normal part of player development.  Unfortunately for Brassard, the lack of talent at the center position has delayed this moment for a couple of years.  But its a necessary part of the growth process.

Let's reflect for a moment what we expected of Derick Brassard.  The year he came up to the NHL he showed great promise before his injury (2008-09).  Coming back the following year, it was hoped that he would hold down the number 1 center job in his first full year in the NHL since we didn't re-sign Manny Malhotra.  Number 1 lottery pick overall Sidney Crosby may have been able to do that, but Brass was 6th overall.  A player like that should be not be expected to hold down a number one center job in his first full year.  That takes an extraordinary talent, not just a good player like Brass.  But such was the Blue Jackets need.

Enter Jeff Carter.

Carter is a center with All-Star credentials.  When he joined the team via trade, his arrival served to put pressure from the top on the line combinations in the center position.  When the CBJ traded for Mark Letetsu, it put even more pressure on the center position, especially on the 'semi-skilled' centers on the top couple of lines.  Thus, Brassard, and to some extent Vermette, are the 'odd centers out'.  This of course doesn't mention the 800 lb. gorilla in the room, Ryan Johansen.

Over the long term, this is highly beneficial to the organization.  There is strength down the middle like we have never had before.  That strength has been slow in evidencing itself in 2011-12, especially with Carter's injury, but it is starting to show.  This situation will force Brass to elevate his game if he wants to get playing time.  This may be difficult at first for Brassard.  This is a process he should have gone through two years ago.  That it has been delayed this long will make it harder.  But he should emerge on the back end of it a better player, and more likely to achieve his potential.

It's way to early to start using terms like 'bust', as some folks surely will.  He needs to continue a development process that was interrupted by unreasonable expectations that he was unable to achieve.  Now the expectations are on a proper level, and his development can proceed at a more normal pace. Now is the time for patience with Brass.  Its likely we will need him later in the year and in the future.



  1. Sounds like another certain "high expectations after his first" player i don't want to mention.

  2. Sorry, I wasn't sure who you meant, Picard, Brule, Filatov, Mason or Jake?

  3. When 'failed prospects' begin to number in the many I think its a pretty good indication that there are problematic people somewhere in player development, scouting, upper management and maybe even ownership, but its hard to see in. Teams like Detroit and Vancouver have made core players and superstars out of next to nothing, while other teams consistently fail to make something out of early first round picks. Fans often blame the players themselves, a mistake imo. Mase should have been backing an established and accountable netminder up by the end of his sophomore year, and yes Brassard was way too young to be centering the top line. At least with Carter around Johansen won't get leaned on the same way.

    (btw, great blog. i'm loving it.)

  4. "Number 1 lottery pick overall Sidney Crosby may have been able to do that, but Brass was 6th overall."

    Crosby was the top pick in 2005. The top pick in 2006 (Brassard's draft) was Erik Johnson.

  5. Brass would have had over 50 points last year had it not been for his hand injury. His numbers were trekking in the right direction and overall they were OK all things considering.

    Sitting him out at 24 years of age for the sake of player development while younger ones are playing would not motivate anyone and therefore unlikely to develop.

    I like the kid, I think he is a competitor but now I'd like to see him traded. Not that he is not a good asset for the Jackets but because the Jackets don't know how to use him. He's been on more line combinations than the number of games he played. He needs to be given a chance for his playmaking to develop chemistry with a sniper.

    It is best for him to be traded. From Jacket's perspective, you can't have a $3 million player being a healthy scratch. From Brass's persective, he is at a critical stage of development where he simply must be given better opportunities to produce.

  6. Pusuant to my Nov 22 comment and all the developments since (firings of coaches with much better records, Brass' agents' comments), is there any doubt that some stalemate has to end here?

    Status quo will see Brass playing low quality minutes every three games. He will end the season with 10 points in 35 games.

    Who will end up looking good?

    Former #6 draft pick underachieving?

    Howson spending $12 milion?

    Arniel's coaching decisions which must be now affecting the dressing room?

    A trade now is a must at any cost in my opinion.


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