With the recent rumours surrounding Jake DeBrusk not taking a hometown discount and the Bruins not having enough cap space to keep him, here are a few reasons why a trade might not be that bad of an idea.
- The Bruins Culture
There have been many times where Boston needs to trade a player that they’d rather keep. The biggest reason within recent years has been money. Losing players like Seguin and Hamilton may have been tough to swallow, but at the end of the day, it showed that the Bruins management sticks to its guns. Keeping players like Pastrnak, Krug, Marchand and Bergeron, who took pay cuts to stay, shows what type of group the Bruins wanted to keep around. I like DeBrusk, and he (and his agent) is entitled to ask for however much money he wants. In my opinion, history will repeat itself and, if DeBrusk refuses to take a pay cut, he will be sent away just like the other young star prospects that didn’t fit with the Bruins’ culture.
- The Return Price
Regardless of his playoff performance, DeBrusk still has the deadly combination of having NHL experience and higher ceiling potential on his side. If the asking price is 6 million for DeBrusk’s services, then the return for DeBrusk should be high as well. This is the prime time, and may also be the last time, the Bruins have to use DeBrusk as a trade chip. Once he’s locked in at 6 million, he’ll either not live up to the cash and be impossible to trade, or he’ll meet/exceed expectations and would never leave. The Bruins don’t have a first overall pick going into this draft and that might be a good thing considering the work that the scouting teams haven’t been able to do. However, if on draft day there is a chance for the Bruins to grab a player they really like, dangling DeBrusk might do the trick. There could also be an opportunity to trade DeBrusk for a 2021 first round draft pick that they can then trade at the deadline for that second line winger they always purchase for a deep run. If not a draft pick, then perhaps a young prospect, or two, with big upside that won’t be eligible for the Seattle draft.
- The Expansion Draft
Speaking of Seattle, letting go of DeBrusk gives us less forwards to worry about protecting and makes the possibility of protecting four defensemen more flexible. Depending on how he performs in the playoffs and what the Bruins can sign him for, Matt Grzelcyk could be worth keeping over an overpaid DeBrusk. The only other issue with protecting Grzelcyk would be that every forward outside of the Perfection Line and Coyle would be at risk of being scooped up by Seattle. The question then moves into how players perform in the 2021 season. Are any of the remaining Bruins forwards (Bjork, Ritchie, Kase, Kuraly) worth protecting over Grzelcyk? If the Bruins do sign DeBrusk, it all becomes a pointless debate because he would be a definite protection which forces the Bruins to only protect three defensemen. Then you’re left with the threat of DeBrusk being an overpaid bust and losing a valuable defensemen.
- The Left Wingers
Probably the biggest reason why trading DeBrusk is even an option, is the idea that there will be more affordable players available to potentially take his place. Anders Bjork is also up for a new contract and should be getting some kind of bridge deal. Nick Ritchie is with us for at least one more year as well so that would be our two obvious choices for next year’s competitirs for second and third line left wing. Par Lindholm and Anton Blidh are in line to replace Joakim Nordstrom as the fourth left winger, and there is always Sean Kuraly who can play left wing on the third line if Lindholm is moved to fourth line centre. Throwing Marchand in on the first line, you have to ask yourself two questions. Is this a left side that you would trust going into the playoffs? No. Is this a left side that you would trust going into the regular season with the expectation of adding a top left winger at the deadline (perhaps with the first round pick you received in the Jake DeBrusk trade)? Yes. On top of that, a prospect like Jakub Lauko might just push his way onto the team if past training camps have shown any indication of his drive to make the big club.
Forward Group without DeBrusk...
Marchand - Bergeron - Pastrnak
N. Ritchie - Krejci - Kase
Bjork - Coyle - Kuhlman
(Lauko - Studnicka - Senyshyn)
Lindholm - Kuraly - Wagner
(Blidh - Frederic - B. Ritchie)