Bruins Mailbag: DeBrusk, Sweeney, Trade Targets & More

It’s going to be a while before the Boston Bruins take the ice for their next game following the NHL shutting down team activities until after the three-day Holiday break on Dec. 27. With a long break coming for the Black and Gold, it’s time for another Bruins Mailbag for The Hockey Writers. Let’s fire it up!

When Will a Jake DeBrusk Trade Happen?

Kyle K.

It will happen, but it won’t be anytime soon most likely. They need DeBrusk now with the COVID-19 outbreak as he has gone from the fourth-line, up to the second-line because of all the players out. General manager Don Sweeney wants to do a deal, but won’t until he gets the return he likes and one that will help the team.

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

In an ideal world, the Bruins get back impact players that will help this season and possibly the future. It should come as no surprise that it has got to this point, but this is a deal that Sweeney needs to get right. If this trade happens and the returns are not enough, then it could set the organization back. They are already hanging on for dear life for a Wild Card berth in the Eastern Conference.

Are the Bruins Better Than Detroit, Columbus, or Pittsburgh?

Matias H.

Head-to-head wise, they have split their two games with the Detroit Red Wings, but have yet to play the Columbus Blue Jackets or Pittsburgh Penguins. In a coincidence, the first scheduled game following the Holiday break is the Penguins at the TD Garden, but at this point with the Bruins shut down until at least Dec. 27, that is too far off to even think about.

Related: Dear Santa: Bruins’ 2021 Christmas Wish List

Right now, all three teams are better than the Black and Gold, with Pittsburgh playing some of the best hockey with Sidney Crosby healthy and pulling away from the other three in the standings. Detroit is a good young team with some very good talent in Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider, with veterans mixed in and Columbus is playing well. A lot can change between now and the trade deadline, but until the Bruins solve their secondary scoring woes, getting a second-line center and addressing the left-side of their defense, yes, those teams are better than them, so far.

Will the Bruins Make a Run at Jakob Chychrun?

Chris D.

Elliotte Friedman in his latest 32 Thoughts column noted the Arizona Coyotes are gauging the market on Chychrun, their left-shot defensemen. Well, the Bruins are one team that is in need of a left-shot defenseman, but the return is reported to be massive for the 23-year-old and the 16th overall pick in the 2016 Entry Draft by Arizona.

Jakob Chychrun Arizona Coyotes
Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

A massive haul is understandable for Chychrun, who is under contract for three more seasons with a $4.46 million average annual value (AAV). What could the Bruins offer? Well, maybe DeBrusk, a top-level prospect would be the starting point. It’s more than likely that Sweeney touches base with Coyotes’ GM Bill Armstrong, but I would be surprised to see a deal done. A second-line center should be Sweeney’s top priority right now.

Will the NHL Players Go to the Olympics?

Shane R.

With the recent outbreak of COVID-19 around the league, forcing some teams to shut things down until after Christmas, I can’t see it happening. The quarantine procedures could last from 21 days to five weeks if someone tests positive, in accordance with Chinese law. I get it, it’s a dream of all hockey players to don the jersey of their country at the Olympics, but my guess would be that front office personnel would not be happy to have players stuck in China. The players have a January opt-out date to withdraw without financial penalties. You get the feeling that a decision will be made well before the New Year starts.

Is This Sweeney’s Worst Offseason as GM Signing Free Agents?

Ryan H.

To be honest, it would be hard to find another free-agent class that has struggled as much as this one has through the first 26 games in Sweeney’s tenure in charge. Normally I would say let it play out longer, but aside from goalie Linus Ullmark and flashes here and there from defensemen Derek Forbort, it has not been a promising class.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney
Bruins general manager, Don Sweeney (Boston Globe staff photo by John Tlumacki)

Ulmark has got better as the young season has gone along in splitting time with Jeremy Swayman, while Forbort is tied with Charlie McAvoy in terms of goals from defensemen with four, but his 5-on-5 play and shorthanded play has left a lot to be desired at times. The three bottom-six forwards signed as free agents, Tomas Nosek, Erik Haula, and Nick Foligno have combined for three goals and 10 assists. Not what Sweeney was hoping for, especially watching the bounce-back season Ondrej Kase is having with the Toronto Maple Leafs. In his six seasons as GM, these offseason additions have struggled and there are no signs of it getting better for the trio of forwards anytime soon.

Does it Take Two All-Stars on the Same Line for Taylor Hall to Produce?

Matias H.

Well, going by the returns through the first 26 games this season, maybe. It certainly would help if he had a playmaking center on the second line. Following his trade from the Buffalo Sabres at last April’s trade deadline, Hall had eight goals and six assists playing next to David Krejci, but this season playing a majority of his time next to Charlie Coyle, he has just five goals.

Taylor Hall Boston Bruins
Taylor Hall, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Nothing against Coyle, but when Hall moved up to the first line with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak when Brad Marchand was suspended and in COVID-19 protocols, he was a different player. Bruce Cassidy would never take Marchand off the top line, but putting Pastrnak down on the second line with Coyle and Hall might give Hall the jump he needs. Craig Smith has underperformed on the second line, which has not helped Hall’s cause, but if watching what a different player Hall is with playmakers such as Krejci and Bergeron, Sweeney needs to get a second line playmaking center through a trade.

That wraps up another Bruins Mailbag. There is certainly no short of topics surrounding the Black and Gold, but they are off until after the three-day Holiday break and will hopefully keep the COVID outbreak to where it is with nine players.

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