"Pucks with Haggs" publishes twice a week. Subscribe here and get Pucks with Haggs straight to your email! Please feel free to comment, share, like, etc. And Subscribe! Thanks and see you at the rinks!
It’s been altogether quiet on the NHL trade market to this point in the season as the 32 NHL teams stretched to the quarter mark evaluating what they had on their roster. Things are about to pick up, however, with the news that struggling Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk is looking for a “fresh start” somewhere else as things have gone sideways for him in Boston.
“Jake has certainly let it be known that he’d prefer a new opportunity. We expect Jake to play well,” said Don Sweeney, confirming DeBrusk’s trade request. “This comes down to the Boston Bruins having to make a hockey decision. And for Jake, it comes down to playing his best hockey, whether that’s for us, but also if it leads to an opportunity elsewhere, he has to play his best hockey as a player. He knows that.
“My sole purpose in this, to make sure we do what’s right for our club. We’re a competitive club and we’d obviously like to be that [moving forward].”
The 25-year-old DeBrusk scored 27 goals in his second season with the Bruins and looked like he was part of the Black and Gold’s core group, but the left winger has regressed since while dropping all the way to five goals in 41 games last season. The skating speed and the offensive skills that made him a 2015 first round pick are still there in flashes, but the Bruins think DeBrusk simply doesn’t play as hard as he did in his first few NHL seasons.
“He used to be greasy Jake where he'd get a lot of greasy goals around the net, but we haven't seen much of that since his second year,” said Boston Bruins President Cam Neely during an intermission interview with 98.5 the Sports Hub on Tuesday night. “He's a proud guy too. He feels a change of scenery will get his game back.”
With that in mind, the Bruins have reportedly heard from “as many as 12 teams, maybe more than 12 teams” about DeBrusk’s availability on the trade market. There’s clearly interest, but the B’s are also determined to execute a “hockey trade” where they receive an asset in return that’s going to help them this season. Let’s put away the scenarios where Boston trades away DeBrusk for a draft pick and instead investigate what interested teams could trade back to the Black and Gold as the trade rumor season begins:
Edmonton Oilers – This would be DeBrusk’s dream scenario to go back home where he could create more moments like this unforgettable one with his dad Louie while doing television analyst work with the Oilers.
How about a player like 23-year-old Kailer Yamamoto that hasn’t lived up to his first-round billing with the Oilers in a winger-for-winger deal?
Arizona Coyotes – The Desert Dogs are interested in DeBrusk, and this could be a destination spot if the Boston Bruins have any residual hard feelings toward the player about how things went bad. In many ways, it’s the equivalent of Hockey Siberia. If we’re looking to trade winger-for-winger, how about bringing Phil Kessel back to Boston to end his NHL career where it all began for the Black and Gold? They could absolutely use his goal-scoring prowess.
Vancouver Canucks – The Canucks are a hockey club in dire need of a shake up and the Jake DeBrusk situation could really open things up for a bigger deal. A player like Brock Boeser, that the Bruins actually passed on in 2015 to select DeBrusk, is also on the trade block so perhaps this could be a win-win for both teams. One would expect the B’s might need to sweeten any deal for a player in Boeser that’s averaged 25 goals and 50 points over the last four seasons. But Boeser would fit a big time need for the Black and Gold and it might change some of the B’s bitterness about the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft.
Montreal Canadiens – In all seriousness, when do trade rumors between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens actually turn into reality. We’re just going to pass on this one.
Seattle Kraken – One of several teams that strongly linked to Jake DeBrusk, a player like 25-year-old Mason Appleton is what the Bruins are looking for in a hockey trade. He’s a decent-sized center that had a breakout year with 12 goals and 25 points for the Winnipeg Jets last season but hasn’t really caught on with the expansion Kraken this season.
Calgary Flames – The Flames are another Western Canadian team interested in an Edmonton boy like DeBrusk, but he’d have to convince himself it was okay to be on the other side of the “Battle of Alberta.” Certainly, there would be sentimental value in asking for Milan Lucic back in trade given the solid way he’s played in Calgary, but 6-foot-6 defenseman Nikita Zadarov would be a massive help to a Bruins team in need of more size and nastiness.
New York Rangers – There have already been Jake DeBrusk-for-Ryan Strome whispers out there, so why not keep them going here? With three goals and 14 points in 16 games, however, Strome may no longer be an available trade asset with the Blueshirts.
San Jose Sharks – Evander Kane to the Boston Bruins after his litany of problems at NHL stops in Atlanta, Winnipeg, Buffalo and San Jose? Nah.
St. Louis Blues – The Boston Bruins had been linked to Vince Dunn prior to the expansion draft, but that's no longer an option with him in Seattle. Brandon Saad is a guy that the Bruins have had interest in before and could suitably replace a player like DeBrusk.