3 Bruins Tradable Prospects for 2022 Trade Deadline

It has been nearly six weeks since it became public that Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk and his agent have requested a trade. In reality, this is long overdue for both the player and the team. Multiple healthy scratches by coach Bruce Cassidy over the last two seasons and comments made to the media have finally rubbed the 25-year-old DeBrusk enough where he wants out.

The Bruins were sputtering in mediocrity in the 2021-22 season, but have played better of late, but still have needs to upgrade their roster. A second-line center would be a nice addition by general manager Don Sweeney, as well as adding a left-shot defenseman. Both would be nice upgrades at this point for the Black and Gold and a deal involving DeBrusk might be able to get a good return. However, a player-for-player deal involving DeBrusk most likely won’t get the return that Sweeney is looking for, which means he will need to sweeten the deal for a trade partner.

In past trades, Sweeney has traded Bruins draft picks, including first-rounders, to get a player he deemed to fit a need on his team. He might have to do that again in a potential DeBrusk trade, but he could also look to include some NHL-ready prospects to send back. If he chooses to go that route, here are three prospects that could be traded in a DeBrusk deal to get Boston a return they are looking for.

Urho Vaakanainen

Once thought of as an “untouchable prospect”, Vaakanainen has never been able to put it all together to find himself in Boston. Whether it’s been because of numbers in front of him or just a lack of development, he’s been stuck in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Providence Bruins most of his career, but he has recently played in the lineup in Boston and played well. How well? Dare I say he’s improving his trade value?

Vaakanainen
Urho Vaakanainen (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

A left-shot defenseman, Vaakanainen has 20 career NHL games under his belt and the 18th overall pick in the 2017 Entry Draft has four assists. He has spread his 20 games in Boston over three years, but he play in a career-high nine in 2021-22, where he registered two of his four of his assists. This season with Providence, he has one goal and three assists in 17 games, but he has been a steady presence for the P-Bruins on the blueline.

In the last week, he has been in the lineup for Cassidy against two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. He filled in for an injured Charlie McAvoy against the Tampa Bay Lightning, being paired with Matt Grzelcyk on the top pairing. He logged 16:06 of time-on-ice, which included playing over two minutes on the penalty kill and the Lightning’s dangerous unit. He helped seal the game by setting up Brad Marchand for an empty-net goal.

Two nights later against the Washington Capitals, he was again put into the lineup when Connor Clifton and Derek Forbort were placed in COVID-19 protocols. Once again he was up to the challenge, logging just under 17 minutes of ice time, picking up a secondary assist on a David Pastrnak second period goal, while finishing with a plus/minus of plus-2 in the Bruins 7-3 victory.

Related: Bruins Weekly: Grzelcyk’s Historic Night, Prospects Producing & More

There is no doubt that the 6-foot-2 and 200 pound 22-year-old has the tools to be an NHL defenseman, but his development has taken longer than the Bruins would have hoped. If he lands with the right team, he could make an immediate impact this season with a bigger role than he would get in Boston.

Jesper Froden

The Bruins signed Froden in June to a one-year deal and the 26-year-old played well in the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo in September, as well as training camp and in preseason games. He was sent to Providence in training camp after the numbers game squeezed him out, but he has impressed in his first full season of North American hockey.

Jesper Froden, Boston Bruins
Jesper Froden, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He is third on Providence in points with 18 on six goals and 12 assists. Froden has been able to produce everywhere he has been as he had 22 goals and 40 points in 2020-21 with Skelleftea AIK in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). He could be a nice addition to a team’s bottom-six, maybe even a fourth-line, and comes with a very cheap cap hit of $842,500 this season. 

Jakub Lauko

Selected 77th overall in the 2018 Entry Draft, Lauko has been impressive in this first three seasons with Providence. This season he has three goals and nine points, but the 6-foot-0, 184-pound forward could find himself on a team’s bottom-six in the right situation.

Jakub Lauko Boston Bruins
Jakub Lauko, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In 65 games for the P-Bruins over three seasons, Lauko has 13 goals and 24 assists. He led them in scoring in the shortened 2020-21 season with four goals and 15 assists in just 23 games. A good skater with a good skill set, if a trade is made with the right team, he could be a building block for the future that a team would be interested in.

If Sweeney wants to pull off a major blockbuster, then he would have to consider including Oskar Steen or Jack Studnicka, but unless it’s a trade package that is going to help the Bruins for years to come, then those two should be considered untouchable. It could be some time for a deal for DeBrusk is to be made, but Boston’s GM has some prospect options if he feels the need to sweeten a potential deal for the right team.



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