Typically, when an NHL player jumps around the league and plays for nine teams throughout his career there is a major issue. However, for Derick Brassard, he’s been able to prove why he’s an exception.
As a former sixth overall pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, Brassard had spent six relatively strong seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, netting 58 goals and 169 points in 309 games. Since then he has played for the New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers, Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders, and Arizona Coyotes, all prior to joining the Philadelphia Flyers during the offseason.
Now at 34 years-old, the 15-year NHL veteran is making an immediate impact with the Orange and Black, scoring five points in his first three games with the team. He is certainly making his time count while usual second-line center Kevin Hayes finishes recovering from an abdominal surgery that takes six-to-eight weeks to heal.
At first, it seemed like nothing more than a depth signing with the one-year deal, but now the journeyman Brassard has fit right in with his new team and linemates. Better known as the "FAB line," Brassard, veteran Cam Atkinson, and rising star Joel Farabee have shown why they can be such a dangerous line. During their most recent win against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, the line combined for six points.
"I talked to Brass, and him and Cam have some chemistry going way way back – they knew one another from Columbus – and Joel can just play with anyone," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said of the line. "So am I really surprised? Not really. I think all those three guys have one thing in common, they’ve got great hockey sense and they all love to compete. So there’s no doubt that tonight that they made some big plays at the right time."
Once Hayes makes his return, it will be very intriguing to see what Vigneault decides to do with this popular line. There is no doubt that Hayes is the center that should be on the second line, however with the incredible start to the season for the FAB line, don’t be too surprised if they remain together, even with the designation of "third line." It could very well be a case where the team possesses two lines worthy of second-line roles and minutes, certainly a good problem to have.
Brassard's playing style is what you look for in a top-9 player. He goes to the dirty areas, quietly puts up points, and does all of the little things that an average eye might not catch the first time around. He's also an aggressive enough player, but aware of his surroundings, knowing when not to go overboard. He plays a similar game to that of a Pat Maroon in Tampa Bay or Barclay Goodrow, formerly with Tampa but now with the New York Rangers.
No matter how long this hot streak continues, or if the line remains intact beyond Hayes' return, GM Chuck Fletcher certainly made an underrated signing this offseason by adding a veteran like Brassard on a low-risk deal.