6 Potential Trades and Landing Spots for Bruins Winger Jake DeBrusk

Franklin Steele@SteeleOnIceFeatured Columnist IIIDecember 1, 2021

6 Potential Trades and Landing Spots for Bruins Winger Jake DeBrusk

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    On the evening of Nov. 30, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney confirmed that Jake DeBrusk had asked the team to deal him. Trade chatter doesn't get any more official than landing on the front page of NHL.com, but that's where things are between the disgruntled wing and the B's.

    It's a split that has seemed inevitable since Boston signed Taylor Hall to a four-year, $24 million contract in July. That left DeBrusk penciled in as a bottom-six forward, with Hall and Brad Marchand solidly ahead of him on the depth chart.

    Boston clearly hoped that the former 14th-overall pick (2015) would be able to provide the team with some scoring depth, skating alongside similarly speedy Erik Haula on the third unit. That hasn't happened, with DeBrusk picking up just three goals across 17 games so far this season.

    Everything seemed to come to a head when he was made a healthy scratch ahead of Sunday night's showdown against the Vancouver Canucks.

    Sweeney spoke candidly about the trade request, and we can hone in a bit on what the Bruins could be looking for in a possible move if we read between the lines a little.

    "I've been in the know for quite some time and we've been trying to look at a hockey trade situation that would help the Boston Bruins and, as I do my job, accommodate with what Jake thinks best. There's a balance there."

    That doesn't sound like a GM who is interested in taking back futures for DeBrusk, so let's try to find him that fresh opportunity he asked for.

    Stats appear courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com and NHL.com and are accurate through games played on Nov. 29.

Chicago Blackhawks

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    You'll see lists of possible landing spots for DeBrusk until the Bruins trade him. The Chicago Blackhawks are going to appear on every single one of said lists, and for a good reason. A one-for-one swap with DeBrusk heading to the Windy City and Dylan Strome going back to Boston makes a ton of sense on the surface.

    It's speculation on our part, but these are two young players who are looking for a place to reboot their careers. Why not swap them and hope that both forwards settle into new roles and thrive while being given fresh opportunities?

    This is the kind of "hockey trade" we think Sweeney was referring to when he spoke to the media about possible DeBrusk moves. He wouldn't be able to waltz into Chicago and claim a top-line role, not with Alexander DeBrincat locked in as the team's top left wing.

    He wouldn't be competing with someone like Hall for playing time on the second line, however. DeBrusk would have to earn it, and it's fair to wonder whether or not we've seen the best hockey he has to offer. His offensive numbers have declined for five consecutive seasons, after all.

    Still, the Bruins need a center, and Strome isn't really being given a chance to succeed in Chicago. This would be a deal that could benefit all parties involved.

Buffalo Sabres

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    A handful of teams have already been connected to DeBrusk. One of the most intriguing potential landing spots for the forward is with the Buffalo Sabres. Andrew Peters of the After the Whistle podcast tweeted that he'd been told that the team is interested in possibly acquiring the wing.

    If the 25-year-old is looking for an opportunity to establish himself as a top-six winger, this might be the best-case scenario for him. Buffalo is amid another rebuild, and during the offseason, it wasn't even clear who was going to skate on their top line.

    Opportunities aren't going to come much better than this for DeBrusk as he tries to re-establish himself as the 20-plus goal, 40-plus point player we saw back in 2018-19. 

    Of course, going from a contender like the Bruins to a squad that just went scorched-earth rebuild might be tough on a player who might be struggling with his confidence. When he spoke to gathered media this past September about his poor 2020-21 showing, he sounded like someone who knew he was at a crossroads.

    "It wasn't what I wanted or the team wanted in retrospect," DeBrusk said, according to Amalie Benjamin of NHL.com. "So (I) obviously want to improve on it. Pretty much forgot my whole career. Whether it was the 27-goal season or last year, I'm clean-slating it. I think it's a pivotal point in my career as well. So (I'm) just trying to do the little things every day, just take it day-by-day and not look too far in advance or anything in the past."

    We aren't sure if this is the perfect fit for DeBrusk, but if he wants a shot at being a top-line forward, he'd get a long look in Buffalo.

Edmonton Oilers

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    The Edmonton Oilers don't need any more offensive firepower. They already have the skating cheat code that is Connor McDavid. Leon Draisaitl is drawing comparisons to some of the NHL's best offensive players as he continues to score at a torrid pace. They have the league's best power play and have the second-most effective offense in terms of average goals scored per game with 3.75.

    Yet DeBrusk will continue to be connected to the Oilers because he's originally from Edmonton. If a player is looking to get comfortable and start his career over with a blank slate, doing so at home with the chance to skate with McDavid or Draisaitl would have to sound like a pretty sweet deal.

    This isn't the player-comes-home storybook speculation you can see when trade requests pop up like this sometimes. Nick Kypreos, one of the NHL's most plugged-in sources, has mentioned that the Oilers (among a few other teams) are interested in DeBrusk.

    If he had an issue being stuck behind Marchand and Hall in Boston, though, his prospects wouldn't look much better in Edmonton. Zach Hyman is in the first year of the seven-season, $38.5 million contract he signed as a free agent this summer. And he's looked great on the top line with McDavid while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is pretty firmly entrenched on the second unit.

    That doesn't leave the door open in a way that DeBrusk seems to desire, and the Oilers have bigger needs on the blue line anyway.

St. Louis Blues

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    We're going to continue to piggyback off of Kypreos' tweet here with a fascinating possible landing spot in the St. Louis Blues. Here's another team that, when you look at how it's constructed, you just aren't sure where DeBrusk could play and be in a better position than he's in with Boston.

    The Bruins are going to get assets back for the winger, but it isn't like the Blues are going to ship out one of their top-six forwards in a straight-up deal with the Bruins. This is what makes St. Louis such an interesting team of note when it comes to DeBrusk.

    Because it seems like he'd be a part of a much bigger trade, instead of a one-for-one scenario like the one we laid out with the Blackhawks.

    St. Louis has been dealing with their own disgruntled forward in Vladimir Tarasenko. Jeremy Rutherford recently took fan questions over at The Athletic for his mailbag and noted that things have been quiet on the Tarasenko trade front.

    And, of course, the gap between DeBrusk and Tarasenko is significant. This could be a multiple-team deal, however, with someone like the Arizona Coyotes possibly leveraging their cap space to help a team like the Blues out.

    Again, we aren't sure exactly where DeBrusk would fit in with the Blues, but they've been connected to him nonetheless.

Ottawa Senators

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    Trading within the division doesn't happen often, but Boston might be comfortable sending DeBrusk to the Ottawa Senators if the price is right. The 4-14-1 Sens are the worst team in the league, and it's pretty unlikely that he'd suddenly turn them into a playoff team.

    The situation here is similar to the one in Buffalo: an organization that seems to be perpetually on the wrong side of a rebuild. There are some stellar young players in place in Ottawa, though, and DeBrusk just might be able to carve himself out a top-six role.

    Brady Tkachuk will be taking top-line minutes for the foreseeable future, but DeBrusk might be able to push Nick Paul for playing time.

    The hangup might be that the Senators don't really have much that Boston could be interested in. The aforementioned young talent shouldn't be going anywhere, which leaves slim pickings for the B's. One name that several outlets have mentioned as a possibility is Chris Tierney.

    Both Ty Anderson of 985TheSportsHub.com and Nick Goss of NBCSports.com mentioned Tierney specifically as a possible trade target. It's speculation, but these are two smart analysts who see the same fit. Maybe the Bruins and Senators figure something out along these lines in the coming weeks.

New York Rangers

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    We're still squarely in speculation territory with this fit, but we aren't alone. Two weeks ago, Jimmy Murphy of BostonHockeyNow.com wondered if the Bruins would be able to find a deal involving DeBrusk with the New York Rangers.

    This was based on a report from TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger—another one of the most plugged-in folks around the NHL—that said the Blueshirts were in the market for a "middle-six forward." They were rumored to be on the hunt for help up front before Sammy Blais was lost for the season.

    New York is still very much in the mix for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division, having lost just four times in regulation this year. Losing Blais is a big hit, but general manager Chris Drury can't afford to sit on his hands in addressing this particular hole.

    It seems like this could be the perfect fit for DeBrusk. He'd get the chance to show the hockey world that he's still a talented and speedy finisher, while the Rangers get help for their second or third line. Sounds like a win-win to us.

    Could DeBrusk be involved in resolving the Vitali Kravtsov standoff? The former first-round pick (2018) was reportedly given permission to seek out a trade back in October. Could the Bruins and Rangers swap reclamation projects? 

    We aren't sure if that's how a trade would shake out, but it's clear that DeBrusk and the Rangers could be a great fit for the rest of 2021-22.