“He’s out there again but at what price,” an NHL scout commented to Boston Hockey Now on Saturday when it came to forward Jake DeBrusk. When the rumors were dug into a little further, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney acknowledged that he was listening to trade offers.
When Jake DeBrusk’s name is mentioned in connection to the Edmonton Oilers, no one seems to be surprised. He’s a local kid, his dad Louie is a commentator for Oilers games, and perhaps most importantly, he’s not playing up to snuff in Boston where the Bruins have a lot of internal housekeeping to do. DeBrusk’s name is out there again, this time in a column written by the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson.
Matheson notes, “The only reason we’re even talking about a trade is because DeBrusk seems to have lost his way in Boston, tumbling to 14 points in 41 games (five goals) this year — vacillating between second and third line, more time on right-wing than his normal left after they traded for Taylor Hall.” He adds that after DeBrusk got COVID and was out for a few weeks, he never quite returned to form. He wasn’t comfortable playing the off-wing where the Bruins put him and he wound up being a healthy scratch on a couple of occasions, including Game 5 of the Bruins series with the New York Islanders.
Matheson explained, “With the Bruins in a cash-crunch, trying to find money to resign David Krejci, Tuukka Rask and Hall, something has to give and maybe that’s DeBrusk…” The problem for the Bruins is that if you move DeBrusk now, you’re selling at an all-time low, which is exactly what the Oilers are looking for in a deal, but not ideal for Boston and general manager Don Sweeney.
Why DeBrusk Fits for Edmonton
First, his $3.65-million cap hit is not an albatross for the Oilers who are looking for ways to wisely spend a considerable amount of money but not strike out huge on trades or in free agency. DeBrusk could fit on the Oilers second line, playing alongside Leon Draisaitl and giving him the best chance to produce.
DeBrusk is also motivated. After a few years now where his production has steadily declined, he knows that a change of scenery might be the best thing for him. “My haters had a lot to say this year … I’ve got to prove a lot of people wrong,” said DeBrusk. He knows that will come with a change in the way he plays, but it might help to get a fresh start where fans and the coaching staff believe he can begin anew. He noted he’s not unwilling to stick it through in Boston, but he’s fighting an uphill battle there. “I have to revamp my game. I dealt with a lot of negativity this year. I’m a big boy, I can handle that. I became a bit of an easy target.”
What Would the Bruins Want Back?
Matheson suggests that Zack Kassian might be someone the Oilers try to send back in a DeBrusk trade, but it’s not clear a) if the Bruins are interested or b) if the Oilers really want to move Kassian. There’s talk that Holland believes this team needs to be tougher to play against and moving Kassian is counterintuitive to that end goal.
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