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When the Penguins acquired Derick Brassard from the Senators last February as part of a three-team trade, they parted with major assets that included a 2018 first-round pick, a top goaltender prospect (Filip Gustavsson) and defenseman Ian Cole. Nonetheless, the move was hailed as giving the Penguins depth at the center position not enjoyed since Jordan Staal complemented Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Early returns on the deal, suffice it to say, weren’t great. In Pittsburgh, Brassard didn’t score much. He was a turnover machine. He uncharacteristically disappeared in the playoffs. He was, to a degree that we may never quite know, hampered by injury. And now, as the Penguins set their sights on a third Stanley Cup in four seasons, Brassard might be the player with the most questions to answer.