Jake DeBrusk Is Making it Hard for Bruins to Trade Him

Earlier this season, Jake DeBrusk requested a trade from the Boston Bruins. This was made public immediately after head coach Bruce Cassidy made him a healthy scratch against the Vancouver Canucks in November. The team has naturally been listening to offers for the 2015 first-round pick but has yet to find an acceptable one. They want a player of at least equal value in return as they aim to make a push for the Stanley Cup this spring. Yet, with how well he is playing lately, the Bruins may have to think twice about moving him.

Of course, the Bruins can take their time to find the right deal. For example, Vladimir Tarasenko requested a trade from the St. Louis Blues this past offseason, but a deal hasn’t happened yet, and if DeBrusk continues to play this well as we get closer to the deadline, he should finish the season in Boston. Here’s why.

DeBrusk Is Fitting with Bruins’ First Line

Although the sample size is small, DeBrusk has been excellent since he was promoted to the first line. In three games with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, he has five goals and two assists. Of course, his hat trick against the Los Angeles Kings helped pad the statistics, but he also recorded at least one point in each of the other two contests and hasn’t had a single bad night with the team’s legendary duo.

Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins
Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It’s a bit surprising how well DeBrusk is playing on the right-wing. In the past, he has struggled on his off-wing. With David Pastrnak and Taylor Hall finding wonderful chemistry on the second line, the Bruins have been looking for a new right-winger for the first line. Craig Smith struggled to produce in the role and has looked far better with Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic on the third line. DeBrusk, on the other hand, is starting to look like a solution to this problem.

DeBrusk Providing Much-Needed Secondary Scoring

DeBrusk had already started to heat up before his promotion to the top line. In each of the two previous games, he scored a goal for an impressive seven goals and two assists in his last five games. That is the kind of secondary scoring the Bruins have been looking for all season and then some. Even after their seven-goal explosion against the Kings, the team only has 158 goals for this campaign, to rank 18th in the NHL; the only playoff-contending team they are ahead of in this category is the New York Rangers. Trading away a winger on a hot streak seems counterproductive.

Related: Bruins Should Trade for Chara Ahead of Deadline

Although DeBrusk has struggled at times this season, his overall numbers are solid. In 48 games, he has 14 goals, 10 assists, and a minus-1 rating. With this, he is ranked fourth on the team in goals and sixth in points. Remembering that he had a 14-point campaign in 41 games last season, this kind of bounce-back year should not be ignored and warrants praise.

DeBrusk Under Team Control

Although DeBrusk’s contract expires at the end of the season, he will be a restricted free agent. Therefore, if the Bruins do not trade him before the deadline, they will still have control over his rights this summer. If he continues to play this well moving forward, management’s best course of action will be to delay a trade until the offseason.

Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins
Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

DeBrusk’s $4.41 million qualifying offer could make other teams a bit uneasy, but the possibility of that changing is beginning to form. If he stays a legitimate top-six winger for the remainder of the season, there will be plenty of interest in him this summer. Although both parties would benefit from a trade, the Bruins can take their time to find the right deal and have the upper hand in this.

Trading DeBrusk Could Make Sense

However, as DeBrusk’s trade value continues to rise, the Bruins could arguably move him now. Although I’d keep him, there are situations where the young forward could be made expendable. If they want to complete a blockbuster deal at the deadline, he is the roster player most likely to be included and would be worth considering.

There are some pretty notable players reportedly available. Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators comes to mind, but they would need to give up far more than just DeBrusk to acquire him. Other players like J.T. Miller, Jakob Chychrun, Claude Giroux, and Conor Garland would also be nice to have, but again, it would be expensive to land any of them. However, if the Bruins want to add a player of equal skill level instead of an upgrade on DeBrusk, trading him may not be the best call. Why should they try to fix something that doesn’t seem to be broken anymore?

Although his tenure with the team could be coming to an end, there’s no question that DeBrusk is starting to thrive in his new role. With this, general manager Don Sweeney has a major decision to make this deadline season. Should they keep him for a playoff run or move him?

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