What should the Bruins do with Jake DeBrusk?
There’s no denying that Jake DeBrusk’s journey in the NHL, specifically over the past two or three seasons, can be best described as turbulent. The one time 27 goal scorer has only potted 19 goals in his last 89 regular season games dating back to 2019–20. DeBrusk’s lack of consistency at times has left many wondering what the best course of action would be — does Don Sweeney admit defeat, and move on from the only NHL regular he acquired in the first round of the 2015 draft? Or, does he remain patient?
This question was further amplified when it was revealed early this season that Jake DeBrusk had officially requested a move from the Bruins, as the 25 year old winger feels it would be best to have something of a fresh start with another club.
While Sweeney admits that he is in fact willing to oblige this request, he has not appeared to be in any hurry to move on from DeBrusk, stating that they know what kind of player that he can be when he is on top of his game, and the Bruins will refuse to “sell short” just for the sake of moving him.
Fast forward to late February of this year; not only is DeBrusk still with the Bruins, he is thriving. Admittedly, we’re looking at a small sample size here, but DeBrusk has scored 7 goals and 9 points in his last five games — two of which he has spent playing on the first line alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. That’s right; 37% of DeBrusk’s goals over the past two seasons have come in his last 5 games. So, the next question we have to ask ourselves is this; is now the time to move him as the trade deadline approaches? Many would say yes, sell while he’s hot! However, it is important to remember that the Bruins are aiming to be a playoff competitor this year, so is moving on from DeBrusk right now really the best move to help the team?
Unless Boston is able to acquire a significant piece in return for a package which includes DeBrusk (namely a second line center, top six winger, or top four defenseman), I would argue that it may help them more than hurt them to simply hold onto him until the end of the year. This of course under the assumption that his production remains consistent (maybe not 7 goals in 5 games type consistency, but certainly someone who is contributing on a regular basis). If we continue to see the type of player that we saw in last night’s 7–0 win over the LA Kings where DeBrusk scored his first career hat trick, teams would have to be putting pretty sweet offers on the table to justify moving him prior to the end of the season.
Also of note, DeBrusk still holds RFA status at the end of this year, meaning a qualifying offer can be placed by the Bruins prior to an offseason trade occurring, should Boston decide to keep him for one more playoff run before giving him the fresh start that he still appears to desire, despite recent success in a black and gold uniform.
What will happen with #74 remains to be seen, but Sweeney will certainly have some important decisions to make over the next few weeks prior to the March 21 deadline. You would have to imagine his phone has been ringing these last few days with interested teams lining up to see what it would take to pry DeBrusk away. All we can say for sure is this; good on Don Sweeney for holding firm, and good on DeBrusk who has handled the entirety of this situation professionally, and continues to compete each night.