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Penguins acquire Senators’ Derick Brassard in 3-team trade

Pittsburgh has found its third-line center.

Ottawa Senators v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired center Derick Brassard as part of a complicated three-team deal involving the Ottawa Senators and Vegas Golden Knights, the teams announced Friday night.

Ottawa receives top goaltender prospect Filip Gustavsson, defenseman Ian Cole, a 2018 first-round pick, and a 2019 third-round pick from Pittsburgh. The Penguins receive young forwards Vincent Dunn and Tobias Lindberg and a 2018 third-round pick in addition to Brassard.

The Golden Knights facilitated the trade by retaining 40 percent of Brassard’s salary along with giving up Lindberg. In return for that, Vegas receives veteran forward Ryan Reaves and Vancouver’s 2018 fourth-round pick from Pittsburgh.

There is a lot going on there, so let’s sum it all up.

Penguins receive: Derick Brassard, Tobias Lindberg, Vincent Dunn, 2018 third-round pick

Senators receive: Filip Gustavsson, Ian Cole, 2018 first-round pick, 2019 third-round pick

Golden Knights receive: Ryan Reaves, 2018 fourth-round pick

Vegas needed to retain 40 percent of Brassard’s salary, which comes out to $2 million of his $5 million cap hit, because the Penguins had limited cap space. That’s also likely part of why Cole was included.

The acquisition of Brassard gives the Penguins the third-line center they’ve been seeking since Nick Bonino signed with the Predators over the summer. He’s in the middle of a good season with 38 points in 58 games for the Senators, and solves the team’s biggest question mark over the past several months.

The Penguins already have two of the best centers in the world in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, so having Brassard to anchor the third line gives Mike Sullivan some serious depth through next season when the forward’s deal expires.

The Penguins had tried to address their No. 3 center issue by trading for Detroit’s Riley Sheahan earlier this season, but Brassard is an even bigger upgrade. It’s a clear statement by the team that it plans to make a run at another Stanley Cup.

The cost landing Brassard for the next year-plus was a relatively high one. The Senators receive Gustavsson, a talented 19-year-old goaltender who was the No. 55 overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, along with a veteran defenseman in Cole and the Penguins’ 2018 first-rounder. The teams also swapped third-round picks.

Cole is an upcoming unrestricted free agent with a $2.1 million cap hit, so it’s likely that Ottawa trades him elsewhere to continue piling up future assets before the Feb. 26 deadline.

Other than Cole, the Senators still have Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman, Bobby Ryan, and others as potential trade candidates. This could be a busy few days for Senators general manager Pierre Dorion.