The Toronto Maple Leafs have no interest in Jake DeBrusk, nor should they. The 25-year-old, a first-round draft pick in 2015, requested a trade from the Boston Bruins over the weekend. His agent was quick to notify the media to drum up as much interest as possible. When a player is rumoured to want a trade, there is usually speculation about Toronto being a partner. Not this time, of the reported dozen or so general managers calling the Bruins, there is no mention of Kyle Dubas. So despite some ideas on social media and fans trying to work hypothetical trades, there is no reason Toronto would want DeBrusk.
Maple Leafs Have Forwards
If there is one thing Toronto doesn’t need, it’s another third or fourth-line forward. The depth chart has already allowed Sheldon Keefe to sub in different forwards with ease. The latest was Joey Anderson, but the team also traded for Kyle Clifford and has looked at Kirill Semyonov a few times.
Plus, Ilya Mikheyev is scheduled to come off the long-term injured list any day now. The Russian may not be game-ready yet, but he will add another body to an already cramped forward group.
DeBrusk is too Expensive for Maple Leafs
Even if Toronto needed another forward, DeBrusk’s contract prices him out of the market. He gets paid $3.675 million and his contract expires at the end of this season. To add that contract to the Maple Leafs books would mean getting rid of a player like Alexander Kerfoot. Kerfoot makes $3.5 million and has become a reliable second-line winger with John Tavares and William Nylander.
Other suggestions in the fan forums have been to move out Nick Ritchie and his $2.5 million. While the statistical numbers and the dollar amounts might make sense, Toronto worked with Ritchie for months, long before training camp started. So they would have to go back to square one while paying the replacement player more money.
DeBrusk is a Rebuild
When Debrusk burst on the scene as a rookie in the 2017-18 season, recording 16 goals in 70 games, he appeared to be on the path to becoming a star player. He followed up that performance with 27 goals in the 2018-19 season and recorded 35 points in 65 games the next season.
But he disappeared last season, managing just five goals and 14 points in 41 games, and it hasn’t improved this season with 6 points in 18 games. While Toronto had some experience with a rebuilding project like Alex Galchenyuk last season, they can hardly spend time and resources on a new player this season.
DeBrusk is Hated in Toronto
DeBrusk was public enemy number one in the 2018-19 playoffs. DeBrusk appeared to attempt a knee-on-knee hit on Nazem Kadri during game two of the playoff series. An irate Kadri responded with a cross-check to DeBrusk’s head, a move that resulted in a suspension and turned out to be the last game the long time Maple Leaf played for Toronto. DeBrusk had to delete his social media accounts after receiving death threats. Even if Toronto wanted DeBrusk, what player would like to go to a city after going through that?
Finally, a particular Stanley Cup champion, Vezina Trophy-winning, eight-time All-Star named Tuukka Rask, should prevent any Maple Leafs general manager from trading with Boston. For those who are new, Toronto drafted Rask and traded him to the rival Bruins, where he proved the Maple Leafs wrong several times. Of course, it’s always more difficult to trade within the conference, but between these two teams and for DeBrusk, it is highly unlikely.
Kevin Armstrong is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience. He’s been rink side for World Juniors, Memorial Cups, Calder Cups and Stanley Cups. Like many Canadian kids, his earliest memories include hockey. Kevin has spent countless hours in arenas throughout the country watching all levels of the game.