The Boston Bruins have already had a hectic offseason. This is before the 2022 NHL NHL Entry Draft or free agency period have even taken place. From multiple significant offseason surgeries, to the firing of head coach Bruce Cassidy, the contract extension of general manager Don Sweeney, the potential re-signing of Patrice Bergeron and the hiring of Jim Montgomery as their new coach, there’s been no shortage of news for the Bruins. Most recently, the team got some welcome news when forward Jake DeBrusk reportedly rescinded his trade request and aimed to remain with the team.
When news came out about DeBrusk’s trade request, the winger had scored just three goals and six points in 17 games. Though trade requests are never ideal for teams, the way in which DeBrusk composed himself throughout the situation and Sweeney handled things should both be commended.
“He’s shown a lot of maturity in trying to handle this as appropriately as possible,” said Sweeney following the reports. “I’m not overly surprised that this eventually came out. I’ve been in the know on this for quite some time and we’ve been trying to look for a hockey trade situation that would help the Boston Bruins and as I do my job and accolade with what Jake thinks is best. There’s a balance there. That’s the profession.”
In looking to do right by DeBrusk in finding him a good landing spot while also focusing on getting a good return for the Bruins, Sweeney would ultimately retain DeBrusk through the 2022 Trade Deadline despite there being interest from teams.
Funnily enough, DeBrusk and the Bruins were able to come to terms on a two-year contract extension worth $8 million. Carrying an annual cap hit of $4 million for two seasons, this was a very good deal for both sides as DeBrusk had firmly turned his season around by this point and he would eventually finish the season with 25 goals and 42 points in 77 games (including 18 goals and 27 points in the final 34 games of the season).
Though the trade request wasn’t rescinded at the time, it did relieve concern about the qualifying offer that DeBrusk would have been due worth $4.41 million for the 2022-23 season for any potential suitors. In getting a two-year deal done on a value number, Sweeney was able to increase DeBrusk’s trade value for a deal, but also give himself cap flexibility should the request eventually be rescinded.
Fast forward to July and DeBrusk is still a member of the Bruins and he’s content to stay put.
“That’s accurate. He rescinded [his trade request]…we’re very happy that Jake has turned a corner in how he feels about the Boston Bruins and wants to be with us,” said Sweeney. “He had a hell of a second part of the year.”
DeBrusk’s turnaround and effort to end the season were certainly notable, though the Bruins did still end up going to their tried-and-true line of Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak when the going got tough in the playoffs, moving DeBrusk to the second line.
DeBrusk’s Future in Boston Still Unclear
Just because DeBrusk is no longer requesting a trade, it doesn’t mean that the Bruins won’t still move him should the right deal come around.
“He deserves a lot of credit for the production he put forth. He’s looking forward to being back. If [there’s] opportunities to improve the team, and Jake knows that as well, I’ll have to continue to look at. But we’re happy that he’s in a good place.”
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The Bruins are going to continually look at improving their roster this offseason. If DeBrusk is part of the plans, he’ll account for a team-friendly cap hit. If a better option presents itself, his end-of-season production should be a good starting point for most deals. A lot can be said about the way Sweeney has run the team since taking over as general manager in 2015, but his handling of the DeBrusk situation thus far has been excellent.
Though DeBrusk may be streaky, he proved that he can be a 25-plus goal scorer again last season and can be a valuable top-six contributor. Whether that’s with the Bruins or another team remains to be seen, but the flexibility gained from his contract and willingness to stay with the team is invaluable.