If you recall him being on the team at all, would you believe me if I told you that Derick Brassard scored over half a point per game with the Philadelphia Flyers last year? Not that I’m positioning Brassard as some kind of sneaky-good Flyer or anything, because it felt like he racked up a lot in the beginning of the season playing on a red-hot line with Joel Farabee and Cam Atkinson before the Flyers went cold and he missed large chunks of time due to injury. But it was still surprising to see where we were considering where we ended up.
In fact, Brassard had 11 points in 16 games before leaving game 17 in the first period. He returned a few weeks later, played in one single game and re-injured himself, missed a month, returned to play in another single game and re-injure himself, and then missed another month. If anything, Brassard’s season is another piece of anecdotal evidence in the much-needed referendum on the Flyers training staff and the amount of injuries, the length of time missed, and the amount of re-injuries they’ve seen in the past few seasons.
Brassard then had 5 points in 11 games in March to close out his Flyers career, as he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers just as I was getting to a point of being able to spell his first name without double-checking.
For a brief moment in that early part of the season, it was easy to envision a path towards a mini-career resurgence from Brassard in Philadelphia. The Flyers were playing well and he was centering the second line. He found great chemistry with his wingers and was scoring at a rate to rival the best years of his career. He had signed a bargain bin show-me contract for a single year after bouncing around six teams in the previous four seasons and it seemed like he was showing me. But it always felt a little bit like Brassard was playing above his level during that hot streak, and while it wasn’t necessarily a big fall to earth in his play that killed the season for him, his season was still pretty forgettable as a whole. He missed time and when he came back the Flyers were capital-b Bad and they traded him away.
Chuck Fletcher traded Brassard with 50% retained salary for the remainder of the season for a 4th round pick in next year’s entry draft. He was a frequent healthy scratch for the Oilers post-trade, and played in just one game of their 16-game playoff run to the Western Conference Finals. He is now an unrestricted free agent without a contract, meaning that even though we have already said and forgotten our goodbyes to this journeyman forward, we just might see him in orange and black again as the cherry on top of Fletcher’s summer of 2022.
While I wouldn’t count on it, nor would I suggest it, bringing Brassard in as a bottom-six forward on a league minimum contract at this point in his career isn’t the worst move a hockey team could make. But it wouldn’t be advisable for this particular Flyers team, mostly because, as much as they’ve passively retooled the roster and crossed their fingers for good health, they’re still Bad. Brassard clearly still has some NHL skills and could serve as a veteran presence who can center a fourth line and fill some injury holes higher in the lineup for brief stints, but that’s a role that needs to be filled on a contending team. Lottery-bound teams don’t really need to waste a roster spot on that role, although whether the Flyers think they’re lottery bound or not is still unclear.
All things considered, it’d be nice to see Brassard fill that role for a competing team, or even a similar depth forward role he played for the Oilers at the end of last year. He’ll be 35 when the 2022-23 season starts, is still chasing that elusive Stanley Cup victory, and needs just 49 games to reach 1,000. And, if it’s a new team that does, it’ll make Brassard just the second NHLer ever to play for 11 or more teams, putting him just one away from tying Mike Sillinger’s record of 12 NHL teams.