Because of Nick Bonino in 2016 and ’17 and Jordan Staal in ’09, Penguins fans are convinced that a top-notch third-line center is required to win a Stanley Cup.
Kind of like how a big deal is expected at every trade deadline because Ron Francis, Rick Tocchet, Bill Guerin, etc.
GM Jim Rutherford also seems convinced of a good third-line center’s value, and convinced that Derick Brassard isn’t one. Said Rutherford of Brassard: “He has under-performed.” As in, just 21 points in his first 50 games as a Penguin.
The only place Brassard has looked the part is on Sidney Crosby’s wing, and even there Brassard didn’t produce. Brassard is currently centering Phil Kessel, and that’s not working, either. Brassard looks like a bust.
But remember that Bonino also looked like a bust.
Rutherford acquired Bonino for the 2015-16 season and in his first 50 games with the Penguins, Bonino had just 13 points. That’s eight less than Brassard.
But then Bonino caught fire. He had 16 points in his last 13 regular-season games, then 18 points in 24 playoff games as the Penguins won the Cup.
H-B-K! H-B-K! H-B-K!
That sort of turnaround hardly seems imminent for Brassard. But Brassard has more talent than Bonino, and had a superior track record before arriving in Pittsburgh.
BTW, do you recall who the Penguins’ third-line center was when they won Cups in 1991 and ’92? It was mostly Bryan Trottier, but nondescript players like Randy Gilhen, Jiri Hrdina, Barry Pederson and Ken Priestlay were also in the mix at bottom-six center.
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