The Pittsburgh Penguins are preparing for the 2018-19 season, and there are still a number of questions remaining.
One question that still looms for the Pittsburgh Penguins is the uncertainty of our centre core. You might be wondering, why is this an issue? I mean, I have to say, our centre core is the best in the game, and has been for quite a long time. But with Toronto’s recent signing of John Tavares, that gap may have closed a little bit.
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We are still the best centre core, but improvement can always be explored. The Penguins only questionable position is our third-line centre. We thought we solved it at the deadline when we brought Derick Brassard in, but unfortunately, he did not exactly meet expectations.
An injury obviously played a part in this, but even when he came back, his performance was…underwhelming. Perhaps he can bounce back, but that is questionable. Centre depth wins championships these days, and the Leafs are looking to beat us in that aspect. That brings us to the question, is Brassard a keeper for the Penguins? Or should we move him?
The Case To Keep Him
It’s easy to see why we would keep Brassard. I mean, the trade market has been quite thin for a third line centre for a while now, and it’s probably not going to get any better. We tried out Riley Sheahan at first but when he didn’t fit the role, he got moved down to the fourth line.
Brassard may not be exactly what Bonino was but he’s miles better than the next obvious option. The Penguins searched far and wide and we finally landed him. Do we need to redo this process all over again?
The Case to Replace Him
Let’s be honest, he looked shaky last season. He is a solid player and he has time to find himself in Pittsburgh, but is he the best we can get? At 30-years-old, he’s almost out of his prime and there isn’t much time for him to improve if anything. What he is is what we get and we may not be satisfied with that.
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We can always explore trade options. He is on the lat year of his contract with a cap hit of $5 million dollars. He still has trade value and perhaps if we include a draft pick, we can steal away a better third line centre.
As well, we have players who can move to the centre if anything. Zach Aston-Reese is looking more NHL ready everyday and can look to take over a roster spot. If he does, Brassard is definitely expendable.
Although I think the Penguins should keep Brassard another season, I feel like the Penguins will trade him over anyone else right now. As Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said, he believes we have too many centres and Brassard is the odd one out.My guess is that if Aston-Reese was brought in to the Penguins line-up, either he or Brassard would look to play on the wing. Brassard would be the odd man out in this situation leaving him expendable or upgradeable. I believe the Penguins will utilize Brassard’s trade value and either look to upgrade or get help on the wing.