Originally posted on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 12/3/11

By Alexander Monaghan
President

Photo Credit: 5of7 / Flickr

On Thursday night, controversial hockey agent Allan Walsh went to bat for one of his underutilized clients. In the past, Walsh scrutinized the Minnesota Wild for their sparse use of Petr Sykora, and did the same when Martin Havlat skated on the team’s second line with limited power play time. He also publicly displayed his anger over the Tampa Bay Lightning and their treatment of Stephane Veilleux. In this situation, the only difference was the client: Derick Brassard.

In part of his rant, Walsh went as far as to pit a conspiracy theory on the Columbus Blue Jackets organization. “Derick has been singled out, almost from the very beginning of the season, to be the fall guy in case things don’t go well,” Walsh opined over Twitter. “The Columbus organization cares about Derick and has been good to him, but at some point, one has to say, enough is enough.”

While the jilted agent later deflected his missives to indicate Brassard does not want a trade, the words have been said and the relationship between player and team may never be the same.

Drafted with the 6th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, the native of Hull, Quebec quickly made his way up the ranks. He graduated to the AHL just one season after getting drafted and even earned a 17-game look in his first professional season. His rookie season was even better as he posted 10 goals and 25 points through 31 games before succumbing to a season-ending shoulder injury in a fight with James Neal. Despite improving his point totals in each of the next two seasons, Brassard has never looked like that dynamic scorer who burst onto the scene.

His fourth professional season has simply been a letdown. In 19 games, the 24-year-old has only posted two goals and four points. Head coach Scott Arniel has been forced to reduce his ice time to just over 14 minutes, which ranks ninth among forwards on the club. Due to the sudden injury of Jeff Carter, Brassard was moved back onto a scoring line where he played 16:42 but still failed to post a point. In fact, most of his counting stats came when he subbed in for Carter on the top line which makes his inability to score that much more daunting.

At this point we don’t know what to make of the disgruntled forward. He certainly is underutilized but Arniel has seen the kid for well over a year and knows what he brings to the currently implemented system. His trade value must be at an all-time low where GM Scott Howson would be reluctant to sell him. Walsh wants his player to get more ice time, not be traded. However, let’s take a look at what could be in store for the shifty center.

Since the end of last season, only three former top 10 selections have changed hands. For posterity, we will limit the players to within the past five drafts, a range Brassard just barely squeezes into. Of those three players, two were dealt from the Blue Jackets organization. Nikita Filatov was shipped up North to Ottawa in exchange for a third round pick while Jakub Voracek was packaged in the Jeff Carter blockbuster. The third, James Sheppard, went to San Jose for a third rounder and has not yet laced them up for his new team.

Despite the similarities in organization, Brassard has a different development curve than Filatov or even Voracek. His most comparable player may be Sheppard — a player who showed potential but never quite got there. In addition, the former Wild draftee was selected just three picks after Brassard. Considering he fetched a third round pick in the offseason it would only make sense for Brassard to get the same. Nevertheless, the operative word in that last sentence was offseason — a time of the season where clubs will take a chance on a player getting a fresh start in the new season.

Right now, one can’t imagine a team wanting to risk that much over a player who has barely cracked the fourth line on the 30th ranked team. They would be lucky to grab a third rounder, which is probably an asset that they don’t quite need. Trading for Mark Letestu and Nikita Nikitin while running minor-league journeyman Curtis Sanford out there every night is a sign that this team actually wants to win right now.

If the club does decide to give up on Brassard and move him for an asset, look for them to make a run at an underachieving but high-end player. Kyle Turris in Phoenix would be a comparable player although the Coyotes probably want a longer look at him. Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey or Sam Gagner would also fit the criteria nicely. These names would make sense if the Blue Jackets did indeed decide to give him a change in scenery.

When you take a look at the top 10 of Brassard’s draft year you see players other teams have already given up on. Michael Frolik, Peter Mueller and the aforementioned Sheppard all were taken from 6-10; seeing Brassard move would not be shocking, especially when you consider 1-5 of that draft became franchise players.

It is a perfect storm of conflict, ineffectiveness and availability that places Derick Brassard on the trade market. All we can do is wait and see that the team decides to do with him.

 


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