When the Boston Bruins made Jake DeBrusk a healthy scratch against the Vancouver Canucks at the TD Garden on Nov. 28, that seemed to be the last straw for the 25-year-old left wing. It was reported one day later that DeBrusk and his agent had requested a trade from the Bruins. Since the trade request has gone public, it has been something that is hanging over general manager Don Sweeney and the front office.
There is little doubt that a trade will be coming at some point involving DeBrusk. Where that will be to and what the return package remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, there is a lot of eyes on this. With the Bruins struggling to stay near playoff position through the first 23 games of the 2021-22 season, this is the perfect time for Sweeney to address some of his team’s needs, mainly a second-line center or a left-shot defenseman.
Bruins “Value” DeBrusk
Elliotte Friedman reported in his 32 Thoughts that the Bruins value DeBrusk, which they should. Selected 14th overall in the 2015 Entry Draft, DeBrusk has shown that he has the ability to be a consistent 20-goal scorer in the NHL. In 2018-19, he scored a career-high 27 goals, then the following season, he was on his way to his second consecutive 20-goal season with 19 when the NHL paused the 2019-20 season because of the coronavirus pandemic with 12 regular-season games remaining.
In the right situation, it is easy to see DeBrusk as a top-six left wing, mainly on the second line. That’s what the Bruins thought they were getting up until the 2020-21 season when things slowly started to go south. After testing free agency in October and November of 2020, DeBrusk ended up re-signing with the Black and Gold on a two-year, $7.35 million bridge deal.
The 2020-21 season was a struggle with DeBrusk scoring just five goals in 41 games and being a healthy scratch multiple times by coach Bruce Cassidy. This season started out well for DeBrusk who scored the game-winning goals against the Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks in October home games. Since then, things again have slowly gone south, which led to his healthy scratch against the Canucks.
There have never been many questions of whether or not DeBrusk can be a top-six left wing in the league, the question has been his effort on many nights, which Cassidy clearly feels he’s not getting his best, which led to him sitting in the press box.
Bruins Need Maximum Return
Over his time as GM, Sweeney has made several trades, but this one feels different. He needs to get maximum value in return for DeBrusk. He has already traded away young homegrown talents in Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen, and Anders Bjork. Two of the three main players the Bruins traded for in those deals, Charlie Coyle and Taylor Hall, are still on the roster, making up two-thirds of their current second line.
I’m not saying that Donato, Heinen, or Bjork’s deals were bad, but the case could be made that DeBrusk is the most talented of the group, which should bring the biggest package in return to the Bruins. Sweeney needs to bring back a deal that fills a void as the second-line center or a left-shot defenseman. Boston is stuck in mediocrity right now and a playoff berth might be considered a long shot unless some of the needs the team has are addressed.
Since the trade request became public, DeBrusk has been better with his overall effort. It very well could be that he’s trying to get his value up to make the possibility of a trade sooner rather than later by raising his stock. He has not totally raised it high, but the argument could be that it’s better than it was two weeks ago. He is still playing third and fourth-line minutes, but the energy and compete level have been better. He has two goals in the last five games, which gives him five on the season, and it ties his total all of last season.
Call me crazy, but the recent effort from DeBrusk is something the Bruins would take. However, Sweeney and the front office hold the cards and will make a deal when they get the deal they want. In other words, DeBrusk could be here for a while and Boston will try and get every little thing out of him as possible.
Sweeney Needs to Fill a Need With Any Deal
Could there be more players, prospects, or draft picks involved in any trade? Nothing is out of the question with Sweeney, but the Bruins need impactful players on the roster now at forward and/or on defense if they want to reach the postseason. Expect Boston to be active at the trade deadline if they are in contention, but this seems like an early opportunity for them to get better now and Sweeney needs to make sure he gets maximum value with any deal he makes.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.