By: Mark Allred | Follow me on Twitter @BlackAndGold277
The American Hockey League Providence Bruins announced today that the top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey League Boston Bruins had signed veteran netminder Francois Brassard to a one-year AHL-only contract. The 28-year-old Quebec, Canada native, was a former sixth-round selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft held at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The 6′-1″ 185-pound goaltender has never played one career game at the NHL level but has been a suitable journeyman in the minor-pro systems in the AHL and, most recently, the ECHL. Last season with the ECHL Jacksonville Icemen, Francois posted a regular season record of 19-9-3 with a 2.19 goals-against-average and .911 save percentage. Brassard was also the recipient of the ECHL Goaltender of the Year award in 2021-22, leading the way with the league’s best GAA (2.19), and also named to the 2022 First All-Star Team.
While Brassard has only three career AHL games under his belt, I believe this signing was due to address the need for netminders with the new ECHL “AA” minor-pro affiliate, the Maine Mariners. This one-year signing of Brassard seemingly lays the bread-crumb trail that goaltenders Jeremey Brodeur and Callum Booth are not returning as Providence Bruins depth pieces.
As of right now, the Boston and Providence Bruins organizations have goaltending depth pieces in veteran Kieth Kinkaid who signed as a free agent this month; Kyle Keyser, who recently accepted a one-year deal to remain with the organization; and finally, Brandon Bussi, who signed a one-year entry-level deal after leaving Western Michigan University.
Traditionally, minor pro teams don’t roll with a three-headed monster in goal, so I expect the Providence coaching staff to challenge tenured Keyser and newcomer Bussi for the AHL Bruins final tandem spot with the veteran Kinkaid. That would mean that the one who loses the job in the upcoming Providence training camp will join Brassard in the ECHL with the Maine Mariners for the upcoming 2022-23 season.
This is also not the first time Francois Brassard has made his way to the New England coast. Before the Maine Mariners officially named an affiliation partnership with the NHL Boston Bruins, he spent 20 games playing for the Portland, Maine ECHL club appearing in six games in 2018-19 and 14 the following season in the 2019-20 campaign.