What is Jake DeBrusk's future with the Boston Bruins?
It's a difficult question to answer.
DeBrusk has shown flashes of being an effective goal scorer and quality playoff performer in three-plus seasons for the Bruins, but he's too inconsistent and goes long stretches without finding the back of the net.
He signed a two-year bridge deal before the 2020-21 season, giving him an opportunity to cash in as a free agent in 2022. Through 23 games this season, DeBrusk has struggled offensively with just three goals and four assists.
What are the chances he actually gets dealt before Monday's NHL trade deadline? The Athletic's Craig Custance and Eric Duhatschek reported Thursday that teams are still calling the B's about their asking price for DeBrusk.
"For teams interested in a younger player who would remain under team control, Jake DeBrusk might be the most interesting option," Custance and Duhatschek wrote. "Teams continue to call the Bruins to inquire about DeBrusk and get a sense of what it would take to acquire the 24-year-old winger. What makes him so intriguing? 'His scoring rate doesn’t drop in the playoffs,' pointed out one source. He has 14 goals in 49 career playoff games."
If the Bruins did move DeBrusk, they would be selling low. However, if the B's could acquire a much-needed veteran defenseman in a potential trade involving DeBrusk, then moving him should definitely be considered. Upgrading the blue line needs to be Boston's top priority at the trade deadline.
Another factor could be July's expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken. If the Bruins aren't going to protect DeBrusk from getting taken by Seattle, that's another scenario where trading him before the deadline would make sense.
One issue with trading DeBrusk is that the Bruins already are lacking scoring depth and rank 29th in 5-on-5 goals with 59. Giving up on DeBrusk just makes that problem even worse, even though he's not contributing at a high level.
The smartest play for the Bruins is probably to keep DeBrusk and revisit his situation before the draft. His value will be higher if he has a strong playoff run.