Jimmy Murphy, who covers the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens for National Hockey Now, released an item on Thursday morning regarding the Vancouver Canucks and their apparent interest in Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk, a player who reportedly asked for a trade out of Boston earlier this season.
Murphy used hockey sources connected to the Bruins organization.
“Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk is still on the NHL trade market and the Vancouver Canucks reportedly still have interest in him,” was his summation.
For fun, let’s do a comparison:
DeBrusk vs. Brock Boeser, two players whose names have come up continuously in trade chatter this season, sometimes in regards to each other’s teams.
DeBrusk – 1st-round, 14th-overall to the Bruins in 2015. Has 74 goals and 75 assists in 287 NHL games. 6-foot, 195-pound, 25-year-old, left-shot winger.
That’s a lot of hyphens.
Boeser – 1st-round, 23rd-overall to the Canucks in 2015. Has 113 and 125 assists in 297 NHL games. 6-foot-one, 208-pounds, turns-25-in-a-week, right-shot winger.
That’s even more hyphens. That’s also a lot more productivity.
Maybe that’s why DeBrusk wants out of Boston. He might be blaming productivity on opportunity. It would appear the concept that Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy and DeBrusk don’t see eye-to-eye would be accurate. Why else would DeBrusk, with his 7 goals and 8 assists in 43 games this season be sometimes playing just 11-minutes a night on the third line behind Trent Frederic on the left side, a player with 3 goals and 3 assists in 28 games.
Frederic was the club’s 1st-rounder, 29th-overall in 2016, and seems to be the coaching staff’s and management’s preferred option. Maybe it’s a draft pride thing. GM’s hate giving up on 1st-rounders and after bombing the NHL draft in 2015, Bruins GM Don Sweeney might be a little sensitive.
DeBrusk, although clearly the best of the three Boston 1st-round picks that year, is a constant reminder.
Remarkably, you may recall, the Bruins selected 13th-overall, defenceman Jakub Zboril out of the Q, 12 points in 54 career NHL games, Debrusk at 14th, and then winger Zachary Senyshyn at 15th-overall, he of 14 career NHL games played and 3 points.
The New York Islanders took Mathew Barzal next at 16. Ouch. Winnipeg took Kyle Connor at 17. Double-ouch. And Ottawa took D-man Thomas Chabot at 18. SWING and a miss, he struck him out.
There are some other NHL beauties over the next 17 picks as well, including Boeser, but surely we digress.
By the way, both players are still hanging around the Bruins, Zboril a spare with ten NHL games played this season and Senyshyn exclusively with AHL Providence.
So back to DeBrusk. Why would the Canucks want him? One thought, there’s still plenty of upside and prime for a player who started his NHL career with seasons of 16, 27, and 19 goals.
A change of scenery is never a bad thing for a good kid.
Let’s be clear, this lack of chemistry with the coach is not a case of a spoiled-son-of-an-ex-NHLer (Louie) who’s a malcontent. Not at all. He might be too nice. Jake may not be a physical player, the complete opposite of dad from a different era altogether, but he has tools and can play a strong two-way game. On a Cup contender he’d be a solid third-line scoring threat. He can snipe.
For doing the salary cap tap-dance, Boeser’s cap hit is $5.85-million while DeBrusk’s is $3.675-million. Boston has just a wee bit of cap flexibility at the moment while the Canucks have basically none.
Long-term, if they’re keepers, DeBrusk’s Restricted Free Agent qualifying offer this summer will be almost three million dollars less than Boeser’s, pretty much why I think Vancouver might ship out Boeser’s $7.5-million dollar whack at some point depending how he and the team do over the next three weeks.
Boeser actually played part of Thursday night’s game like he heard a trade had already come down, but then again, he wasn’t alone. Kudos to him and the Canucks for ultimately overcoming the lull.
Both the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks have secondary scoring issues. The Bruins are 20th in the NHL in goals-per-game at 2.83, the Canucks are 27th at 2.56.
The other difference: Boston sits in the 2nd wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with a six point cushion and games in hand while the Canucks remain three points back of a playoff spot with four teams to hop.
It’s an interesting case study. And what about the remarkably unlikely concept of trading one for the other? The Bruins would have to throw in at least a defenceman to even it up and clean up the cap hit.
A defenceman not named Zboril.