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New acquisition Derick Brassard eager to join Penguins

Jonathan Bombulie
| Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, 1:24 p.m.
Derick Brassard tips the puck past Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers as Mark Borowiecki of the Senators looks on Feb. 17, 2018, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The Penguins traded for Brassard on Friday.
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Derick Brassard tips the puck past Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers as Mark Borowiecki of the Senators looks on Feb. 17, 2018, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The Penguins traded for Brassard on Friday.
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury makes a save on Senators center Derick Brassard (19) in the first period of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Monday May 15, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury makes a save on Senators center Derick Brassard (19) in the first period of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Monday May 15, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.

When he was traded from Ottawa to the Penguins on Friday, center Derick Brassard was served a heaping helping of job stress.

He's an outsider joining a team whose core won the last two Stanley Cup championships.

On top of that, in the estimation of some, his addition is the final piece of the puzzle that will install the Penguins as favorites in their bid for a three-peat.

That's a high-pressure situation.

Luckily for the Penguins, there are few players in the NHL with a better reputation for performing under duress than Brassard.

“Big Game Brass,” as he was known in the New York papers during his Rangers days, doesn't sound like he's fazed by a little midseason move to Pittsburgh.

“I don't feel that pressure,” Brassard said on a conference call with Pittsburgh reporters Saturday afternoon. “I've been traded before. This team won the last two Stanley Cups. They know what it takes to win.

“I know they lost two key players in the middle in (Nick) Bonino and Matt Cullen, but I don't feel that pressure. I'm just going to come in and try to play my game. They already have a really solid core on that team. Basically, I'm going to come in and try to help them win some games.”

Brassard came by his big-game reputation, in part, by putting up 22 goals and 55 points in 78 playoff games since 2013.

When former Rangers teammate and good friend Carl Hagelin was asked about Brassard's game after the trade went down Friday night, the first trait he mentioned was his aptitude for postseason success.

It's a reputation Brassard wears proudly.

“The playoffs, you have to get to another level,” Brassard said. “I feel it's just a matter of putting the passion of the game, the emotion. I felt, especially in New York, it really pushed me personally to try to be the best player I can be.

“It's one of those times of the year. You have a chance to win the Stanley Cup. It's the ultimate prize. I'm 30 years now. I'm going to have a chance to win it and be on a really good team.”

Brassard won't get a chance to add to that reputation for a few more weeks.

In fact, it'll be a few days before he even dons black and gold for the first time. Moving from a Canadian team to an American team, Brassard has some visa issues to straighten out. He said he could miss as many as two or three games, though he's hoping he can be in town in time for Tuesday's home game with New Jersey.

For Brassard's sake, here's hoping immigration goes smoother than the trade process did.

Brassard said he got a call from Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion at about 2 p.m., telling him he had been traded to the Penguins. He sat in limbo for almost eight hours while the Penguins, Senators and Vegas Golden Knights worked out the details of the complicated deal. He said he got a call from Jim Rutherford around 9:30 p.m., officially welcoming him to his new team.

“I was really unsure what's going to happen,” Brassard said. “Even my agent didn't know what was going to happen.”

When he finally lands in Pittsburgh, Brassard is expected to center the team's third line, probably with Jake Guentzel and Phil Kessel on his wings.

Brassard said he's been familiar with Kessel since they squared off in the Under-18 World Championships more than a decade ago. He said he was impressed with Guentzel's youth, speed and skill in last year's playoffs.

“I'm not sure what the coach is going to decide,” Brassard said, “but if we end up all three together, I think we can be dangerous.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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