Derick Brassard ready to ‘start from scratch’ with Penguins, whether at center or wing
When a group of Penguins players split up into teams for some three-on-three play Wednesday morning in Cranberry, Derick Brassard lined up alongside winger Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby.
Was it a preview of the Great Brassard To The Wing Experiment of 2018?
Of course not.
Wednesday’s skate was as informal as they come. Patric Hornqvist played the role of coach, drawing up drills on a wipe board. The official start of training camp is still more than a week away.
Still, the idea that the Penguins might shift Brassard into a top-six wing spot instead of his customary position at third-line center has been a popular topic of conversation in the offseason.
Here’s a summary of Brassard’s thoughts on the matter:
Yes, he’ll gladly give playing on the wing a try. Yes, he’s thought about it from time to time over the summer. No, he hasn’t talked about it with Mike Sullivan or anyone on the coaching staff.
“I’m open for anything,” Brassard said. “We have a lot of good centers, which is really good to have on a team, a lot of depth. We’ve got Matt (Cullen), really good on faceoffs, really good on the penalty kill. I think that’s going to help a lot. Whatever’s going to help the team, I’m going to do whatever. I’m just going to have to play well and earn some minutes.”
Brassard is one of the players on the Penguins roster who could benefit most from a longer offseason.
In addition to the late-season lower-body injury that slowed him in April and May, Brassard played a grueling total of 472 regular-season and playoff games over the past five years.
“I think it’s going to be good for our group to kind of reenergize,” Brassard said. “You can feel the excitement around the guys. After a couple of seasons, when you play almost an extra season, I think it gets tiring a little bit mentally and physically. It was a really good summer. It felt like a short one, but I’m really excited to be here and start from scratch.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.