Nine months after the Rangers and Senators swapped centers, they’ll meet Thursday in Game 1 of their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series.
The Rangers shipped Derick Brassard to Ottawa in July, alongside a 2018 seventh-round pick. In return, the Blueshirts received Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 second-rounder.
Both teams have benefitted from the deal, with the Rangers trading away a player in his prime for a younger, budding star. Read below to see how they’ve fared this season.
The 24-year-old was sidelined for nearly two months early in the season with a broken fibula.
Despite the missed time, Zibanejad was on pace for his best season since debuting in 2011. He notched 14 goals and 23 assists in 56 games, virtually matching Brassard’s production in 25 fewer appearances.
After initially struggling to begin these playoffs, he rose to the occasion in New York’s first-round victory over the Canadiens by scoring the decisive overtime goal in the team’s 3-2 Game 5 win in Montreal. It was by far the biggest moment of his Rangers career.
“I was able to be in the right spot,” he said. “Lucky. I saw it went in and after that, I blacked out.”
With a career high in goals last year with the Rangers, Brassard posted diminished numbers in Ottawa this season.
The left-hander finished with 14 goals and 25 assists in 81 games for his lowest full-season point total since 2009-10.
But Brassard, who turned 29 in September, looked like a man possessed on the ice in Ottawa’s first-round victory over the Bruins. He scored twice with six assists over six games, averaging 20:43 of ice time as the Senators won their first playoff series in four years.
“We felt we needed to get more experience and with Derick there was a history of playoff success,” Senators general manager Pierre Dorion told TSN 1200 this week. For now, it looks to be paying off.