( Photo credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports )

By: Nathan Strauss | Follow him on Twitter @NathanPStrauss

Jake DeBrusk wants out. According to a recent report from TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, the Bruins’ 2015 first-rounder has requested a trade away from Boston, and the Bruins will work to facilitate a deal. DeBrusk, who was scratched last weekend, has long been a point of contention amongst Bruins fans, and this report is likely to cause mixed emotions for diehards and casuals alike. Since Rishaug’s initial tweet, other insiders, including Elliotte Friedman, have confirmed that a potential trade may be in the works.

DeBrusk was selected 14th overall by the Bruins in the mythical 2015 draft, sandwiched between Jakob Zboril and Zach Senyshyn. It is important to keep in mind how he became a Bruins prospect because it undoubtedly plays a part in how DeBrusk has been perceived over the course of his Bruins tenure. Relative to Zboril and Senyshyn, DeBrusk was the only piece from what was possibly the biggest drafting failure in franchise history to make any sort of positive impact at the NHL level (Zboril’s recent performances aside).

DeBrusk made his debut for the Bruins as a 21-year old 2017 and put up 43 points in his rookie campaign. However, his points production and games played has declined every year since then. After notching 27 goals in 68 games his sophomore campaign, he has put up 27 goals total in 123 games since then. DeBrusk was given a two-year, $3.685-million dollar AAV extension in November of 2020, and he will be an RFA this coming off-season.

If DeBrusk does end up going on the move, he should have a fair number of suitors considering his upcoming RFA status and relatively manageable cap hit of 4,850,000. It is an ideal “buy low” situation for a team with cap space and ice time to burn. Furthermore, because of the term on his deal, the Bruins might be somewhat handcuffed in terms of a potential return. It is clear that the vestiges of talent are there and always has been, but the decline in points production should be familiar for Bruins fans who have seen similar exits from Danton Heinen, Anders Bjork, and Ryan Donato.

Where might DeBrusk wind up, and what could the Bruins ask for in return? The bargaining power the Bruins have is fairly minimal, and because the whole league knows the situation, there will be no element of secrecy. One team that has been mentioned already is the Ducks, who have 16 million dollars in cap space and no shortage of potential players who could come the other way.

Sam Steel, Nick Deslauriers, Rickard Rakell, or even Adam Henrique could be part of a deal, depending on potential draft pick collateral that the Bruins could send the other way. With the B’s having a gaping need at center and with DeBrusk’s exit opening a wing spot up, the Ducks could shed players who are not fitting their current plans while picking up DeBrusk and a draft pick for their troubles.

Another team that might be interested is the San Jose Sharks, who have become something of a reclamation project in recent years. DeBrusk would represent an instant upgrade over Rudolfs Balcers, Alexander Barbanov, Andrew Cogliano, or Matt Nieto, and the most enticing potential return for the Bruins could be pending RFA Tomas Hertl.

The Bruins would likely have to part with a significant number of picks, prospects, or both to make such a deal happen. However, with the Sharks focusing on a window of contending that is a few years down the line, Hertl may not fit their timeline, and DeBrusk could well be part of a larger package to give the Bruins an experienced centreman to fill David Krejci’s void.

Jake DeBrusk’s legacy might very well be as an underperformer, drafted erroneously ahead of players like Matt Barzal or Thomas Chabot. He could easily find success as a 20-goal scorer elsewhere in the league. Regardless, it would appear that the Albertan’s NHL future lies away from the Black ‘N’ Gold.