Derick Brassard and the New York Rangers have agreed to terms on a new long-term contract and will avoid arbitration. According to Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada and Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the deal will pay $25 million over five years for an annual average of $5 million. Brassard was previously scheduled for an arbitration hearing Monday, which will now be avoided.
The Rangers now have escaped arbitration hearings with each of the three players who filed for it this summer. Brassard joins Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello as the three RFAs who secured new deals over the last two weeks outside of the arbitration room. The Rangers have just one more restricted free agent to re-sign on the NHL roster, defenseman John Moore.
Brassard had a strong 2013-14 season with the Rangers, posting 45 points in 81 games. He was a strong performer in the playoffs as well with 12 points in 23 postseason contests as the Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup Final.
Brassard came to the organization as part of the trade that sent Marian Gaborik to the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2012-13 season and has played well since his arrival. He had 12 points in 12 postseason games during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Per previous reports, Brassard was seeking an arbitration award of $4.95 million, with the Rangers countering at $3.825. The difference is that would have been a one- or two-year reward, so the Rangers are paying more while getting the security of the term. By giving Brassard five years, the Rangers are taking up four years of unrestricted free agency eligibility, so that often comes with a higher price tag.
It's a lot of money for a player that has never topped 50 points in his career. At 26, Brassard has been a pretty consistent performer over the years, hovering around the 40-45 point range in full seasons. He's a valuable center who plays at both ends of the ice, but the term and value of the deal comes as a bit of a surprise.
Starting next season, Brassard will be the Rangers' fifth-highest paid player on the roster. Considering how many contracts the Rangers have to re-work after next season is over, they didn't do themselves any favors with the contract awarded to Brassard in those future negotiations. The upcoming negotiation with Derek Stepan prominently comes to mind.
It's those looming negotiations that made the last two weeks so important for the Rangers to get through as reasonably as possible. They did so with Zuccarello and Kreider, but the Brassard deal is awfully pricey.
There's no question that Brassard brings value to the Rangers and he could continue to get better as he progresses in his career. How general manager Glen Sather can maneuver through the next few years in which he has to re-sign core players like Stepan, Zuccarello and Marc Staal will help show whether or not this deal between Brassard and the Rangers was truly a sensible one.