It seems as though Jake DeBrusk has fallen out of favour in Boston.
The Bruins were reluctant to give him a long-term contract this off-season after the expiration of his entry-level deal and it took the two sides until late-November to agree to a two-year bridge deal.
On Tuesday morning, Fluto Shinzawa, a Bruins beat reporter for The Athletic, tweeted out that DeBrusk is going to be a healthy scratch for the team’s upcoming game against the New York Islanders. Head coach Bruce Cassidy says that the team isn’t getting an ideal effort out of DeBursk right now.
Jake DeBrusk is a healthy scratch.
Bruce Cassidy: "We feel we're not getting the effort required."
— Fluto Shinzawa (@FlutoShinzawa) March 9, 2021
The 2021 season has been a struggle for DeBrusk so far. Through 17 games, he has just one goal and five points, well below the offensive production he’s had at any point in his career. That being said, DeBrusk still has positive underlying numbers (a 53.3 percent shot attempt differential at even-strength) and there’s no way his paltry 2.9 shooting percentage is going to last.
With all that in mind, the DeBrusk situation in Boston should certainly be of interest to the Oilers.
One of Edmonton’s biggest needs on their roster right now is a left-winger to fill out the top-six. If Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, and Kailer Yamamoto operate as a trio, as many suggest they should, that leaves Connor McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi on the other top-six line without a legitimate lefty. Dominik Kahun, Tyler Ennis, and James Neal appear better suited for bottom-six duty at this point and Zack Kassian remains on the Injured Reserve with a broken finger.
The fit with DeBrusk is very clear. He was born and raised in Edmonton, his father, Louie DeBrusk, played for the Oilers and currently works on the broadcast for the team’s games. Beyond the sentimental stuff, DeBrusk is a big, strong, tenacious winger who skates well, goes to the net, and can score goals. That’s the ideal profile for a McDavid winger.
Also, DeBrusk is under control beyond this season. Based on his acquisition of Andreas Athanasiou at last year’s trade deadline, we can assume that it’s a priority for Ken Holland to add players under team control who can help short- and long-term rather than going all-in for a rental.
The big question, of course, is what makes sense for the Bruins. As I said earlier, Boston was reluctant to give DeBrusk a long-term deal this off-season and he showed up in trade rumours all winter. I don’t imagine the team is in a rush to just dump him and move on, but there’s certainly reason to believe that there could be a deal to be made here.
Here’s what ProHockeyRumours suggests about the Bruins’ needs ahead of the trade deadline…
1) Top-four defenseman – The Bruins have been ravaged by injury to their blueline with Kevan Miller and Jeremy Lauzon on injured reserve. Brandon Carlo is out week-to-week after taking a massive hit from Washington’s Tom Wilson. Zdeno Chara is now in Washington and the team is left with some questionable options on defense. At the moment, the team is using Jarred Tinordi and Urho Vaakanainen as their third pairing, which is something they weren’t anticipating at the beginning of the year. Don’t be surprised if the team looks at some of the big defensive names on the trade market.
Boston’s biggest need right now is on the blueline, which, right now, is a position of strength for the Oilers. Edmonton has a bevy of defencemen on their roster right now, with veterans in Darnell Nurse, Tyson Barrie, Kris Russell, and Adam Larsson, along with a handful of youth in Evan Bouchard, Caleb Jones, and Ethan Bear.
I would be reluctant to move either Bouchard or Bear in a deal, but Jones could make sense as a target for Boston. He’s young and skilled and has a tiny cap hit of $850,000 for this year and next. Given DeBrusk carries a $3,675,000 cap hit this year and next, something else would also have to go Boston’s way, but that, to me, would be the place to start.
What say you, Nation? Could Jake DeBrusk be The Answer in Edmonton’s top-six? What would it take to bring him home?