Fallout of the Derick Brassard Acquisition

Thanks to a helping hand from the Vegas Golden Knights, the Derrick Brassard trade was as complex as it gets for 69 year old Penguins GM Jim Rutherford.

“This is the most complex trade I’ve made,” Rutherford said following the Penguins 6-1 win vs the floundering Hurricanes. “We thought we had the deal made earlier in the day. It wasn’t made. We had to make a couple of changes and go through all those things. It took quite a bit longer than most.”

Last week Pittsburgh starting setting the wheels in motion to potentially trade Ryan Reaves to Vegas that had no connection to Derick Brassard at the time, but in the days leading up to Friday’s trade, the perfect storm happened for Pittsburgh where Vegas was willing to keep 40% of Brassard’s salary/cap hit to help facilitate the deal.

Some executives are livid about the deal.

One NHL exec frustrated with the setup of the trade feels Pittsburgh got more from Vegas than just a lending hand on Brassard.

“Just watch…..they’ll [Pittsburgh Penguins] even find a way to resurrect the Lindberg kid, ” the NHL source said.

— Vegas GM George McPhee on the deal:

“I thought it was a good deal for our hockey club,” McPhee said via the review journal. “We had salary cap space to do it.”

The growing consensus is McPhee decided to help out an old friend in Rutherford to prevent Brassard from going West. The Golden Knights, though, really like Reaves and St. Louis was forced to protect Reaves in the expansion draft last June because they believed Vegas was going to select Reaves.

As for McPhee possibly wanting to keep Brassard from going west, it became known early Friday that Ottawa preferred to deal with Winnipeg, but league sources said early yesterday the Jets were not among the 23 teams on Brassard’s initial list from December he would accept a trade to, therefore, talks with the Penguins got really heated Thursday night and into Friday morning.

“We heard there was some talk about him going [West],” McPhee said. “Materially, was that part of the deal? No.”


Jim Rutherford yesterday when asked by a reporter as to why he wanted Brassard.

“Have you seen him play?” Rutherford said. “He’s got 18 goals. He’s got 38 points. He plays center. We’ve tried to get more depth at center and get more insurance there. Our centers have played pretty well, but you have to have a lot of strength at center. We just felt, when we had a chance to get a guy like this, this was a good addition.”

Rutherford talked about Brassard being a seamless fit to the lineup and it’s been no secret that Brassard has been at the top of Mike Sullivan’s wish list for months.

“Derick, he distributes the puck really well,” Sullivan said of the 30 year old center. “He sees the ice, he’s got real good offensive instincts. Regardless of who we play him with, he’s going to bring that element to the line. He’s good on faceoffs, but he’s got real good offensive instincts. He’s been a top-two center ice man in the league for a long time and I know he’s going to make our team better. I think he can play the style of play that we’re trying to play and I think he’ll fit right in.”


With the Brassard addition, the Penguins would seem to be set with Riley Sheahan as the 4th line center but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Sheahan very likely will stay, but industry chatter is the Penguins are not fully committed to keeping Sheahan at the deadline as interest has spiked from multiple teams and a source says Sheahan’s projected salary of $2.25-$2.5 million next season could also be a factor in the Penguins thinking with Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist, Jamie Oleksiak among the higher priority players needing new deals next year.

The Penguins are certainly listening to inquiries on Sheahan, league sources confirm.

And for whatever reason, Jim Rutherford hasn’t given up on bringing Matt Cullen back, [hide] despite the Minnesota Wild surging and Cullen’s role increasing.


Cullen might be loved by the Penguins and fan base, but Pittsburgh is a better hockey team with Brassard-Sheahan as the 3rd and 4th line centers than Brassard – Cullen.

— Despite being up against the cap, it could still be an interesting next two days for the Penguins. Though there’s no evidence right now this will be the case, who knows, Rutherford could even approach Jason Botterill about Evander Kane again about a package centered around Conor Sheary as the market is weak for Kane. No one close to the situation will say no way at this point.

Those talks were frequent in early January when the Penguins were struggling but they haven’t resurfaced to this point and from Pittsburgh’s end, how much change do you really want with how well the Penguins are rolling?

That said,[/hide] management is said to have a level of concern about Crosby’s caliber of wingers if Guentzel stays on the third line, so you never know.

It To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!