By: Van Alan | Follow me on Twitter @VanAlanClark
Can Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney make a Jake Debrusk trade that actually improves the Bruins? That is one of the critical questions facing Bruins management as the B’s head into the 2022 NHL trade deadline. And despite what the “trade him for a bag of pucks crowd” would have you believe, it is not a given that the Bruins can make a Debrusk trade that makes them better. Because Jake Debrusk is a good player, and the Bruins will be giving something up by dealing him.
When Debrusk’s trade request went public, there were no shortage of calls to Sweeney’s office. However, while as many as 12 GMs expressed interest, it quickly became apparent that those executives were trying to see if they could snag a talented young winger off of the Bruins for nothing. When it became clear that Sweeney wasn’t going to trade Debrusk just to do it and was instead committed to getting fair value for him, interest dried up.
In the months since, Debrusk has been a good pro. Before his promotion to the first line, Debrusk’s numbers were still pretty decent for a player playing primarily third and fourth line minutes with minimal power playtime. He caught absolute fire when the Bruins moved him up to ride shotgun with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. He has since cooled off, but he’s still playing good hockey.
This should serve as a reminder to Bruins fans – while Debrusk is frustrating, we only get frustrated at him because he’s a good player, and we all know it. He frustrates us because we know how good he can be when he’s hot. Players that size who can move like that do not grow on trees. So if you trade Debrusk, there is no guarantee that you can find another winger who can give you what he’s giving you.
There’s still a decent chance Sweeney keeps him past the deadline. He was a first-rounder for a reason. Guys with that amount of talent don’t just fall out of the sky. Some fans are concerned that if he doesn’t get the trade he wants, Debrusk will phone in the rest of the season. However, that would be the worst possible thing he could do for his career. The Bruins are giving him good minutes and a chance to earn his next contract. If Jake Debrusk wants to stay in this league and keep making money playing hockey, he needs to keep putting good shifts on film regardless of what sweater he’s wearing. Jake is a bright kid and is probably smart enough to realize this. And if he isn’t, his agent certainly is.
You might even see the Bruins qualify him in the offseason. It would be a surprise, but there is value in retaining the rights of talented players. And despite wanting out of town, you might see Debrusk sign it. He may want out, but that would be a lot of money to turn down.
My money is still on Debrusk getting included in a package for a defenseman. Then I would expect Sweeney to try and find another winger, preferably a natural right-wing, who can give him 80% of what Debrusk is. But it’s not a given they can do that. So don’t be shocked if he’s still here post-deadline. He’s a good player, and he’s worth something.