Jake DeBrusk is back in the rumour mill again.
According to Elliotte Friedman, the Boston Bruins and DeBrusk “are working on the possibility of a fresh start for the player.”
DeBrusk has struggled is struggling early on this season much like he did in 2021. Last year, DeBrusk scored five goals and 14 points over the course of 41 games and was a healthy scratch on multiple occasions. So far this year, he has three goals and six points over 17 games and was scratched when the Bruins beat the Canucks on Sunday night.
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said that DeBrusk was scratched due to a lack of effort away from the puck.
“I think what happens with Jake and what we’ve seen over the last few years is, like when the production is there you’re getting more second effort, they kind of go hand in hand,” Cassidy told reporters. “When it’s not there, we lose a little bit of that. That’s been the ask of him for a number of years now — no drop off on this side of the ledger just because the production isn’t there.”
Last season, there was speculation that DeBrusk’s game deteriorated because there weren’t fans in the building and it took away from his high-energy game, which was a similar thing that was suggested about Matthew Tkachuk’s down year.
At this point, given the extended period of struggle in Boston, it seems as though a change of scenery would make sense for DeBrusk. Would Edmonton make sense as that destination?
Given the fact he’s a legacy player, DeBrusk will always have a ‘would he be a fit on the Oilers?’ magnet attached to his name.
I asked the question last March when one of the Oilers’ biggest holes was a physical, scoring winger for the top-six when he was scratched against the New York Islanders for not putting in an “ideal effort.” Robin Brownlee also explored the topic in June when DeBrusk again found himself in trade speculation.
The fit made more sense back then because the Oilers hadn’t yet signed Zach Hyman to be the much-needed physical, scoring winger in the team’s top-six or traded for Warren Foegele to add quality depth to the third line. At this point, DeBrusk would probably be the fourth left-winger on Edmonton’s depth chart.
That said, adding quality players when they’re at a low point and hoping for a bounce-back is always a worthwhile play, and DeBrusk is only a couple of years removed from scoring 27 goals in 68 games.
DeBrusk has a cap hit of $3,675,000 for one more season and then he’ll become a restricted free agent for the second time. He’ll also be arbitration-eligible for the first time this upcoming off-season.
Given Edmonton’s other areas of need (third-line centre, veteran defenceman, potentially a goaltender), it’s difficult to see taking on a mid-size salary as a bit of a reclamation project as a sensible move. It would have to be a money in, money out swap, and I’m not sure the Oilers have a similar reclamation project to send the other way, unless they want to send back Kailer Yamamoto.