If Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney thinks he is going to receive, in exchange for disgruntled winger Jake DeBrusk, a forward of equal value, then somebody get me in touch with his people because I have a bridge to sell him.
Now, the reason I say forward and not defenseman (despite recent chatter that Montreal Canadiens’ defender Ben Chiarot is now a possible return for DeBrusk), is only because Boston’s forward depth would be suspect at wing in terms of quantity (and, for that matter, quality, too). Then, again, if Sweeney trades DeBrusk for what I think he should, that issue would persist regardless, but I digress.
As a surprise to almost no one, for the third consecutive year, DeBrusk is yet again an under-performing forward with an underwhelming stat line this season. And so, understandably, players like Chicago Blackhawks centerman Dylan Strome and Seattle Kraken’s Mason Appleton were heavily rumored to be return assets via trade for Boston’s third-line left-winger.
Yet funnily enough, lately, it appears as though, at this juncture, that Sweeney is no longer interested in either of those assets now. A wise call, indeed, if that is, in fact, the case because DeBrusk, despite his ongoing scoring inconsistency, is still having a better offensive campaign this year than those two.
And that is saying something, considering the big names Strome is on a team with (and, once, on lines with), or that Appleton failed to punch above his weight class, offensively, on an expansion team with little to no scoring abilities. All of which are reasons why, in my view, neither one is of equal value for even a struggling DeBrusk.
But, more than anything, the truth is in the numbers and, at present, DeBrusk’s 13 points (six goals and seven assists) in 33 games leads Strome’s 11 points (four goals and seven assists) and Appleton’s seven points (two goals and five assists) in 27 and 26 contests, respectively, this season. And while all three are negative in the +/- column, DeBrusk has been the most defensively-sound of the lot of them, with a -3 versus the others tied at -6.
Like every professional sports league, the NHL is flooded with more low-skilled players than it is with seriously talented ones. And so, instead of swapping out the 25-year old Bruins forward for a player also in need of a ‘change of scenery’, the Bruins GM would be better off trading him for a mid first-round pick in this year’s entry draft.
As that would, essentially, give the B’s two first-round picks this year. Two first-round picks they could use on a talented left-shot defenseman AND a play-making second-line, potentially first-line, center. Two draft picks that would, once in Providence, overload the B’s farm system with talent and skill, especially when Boston’s first-round draftee from last year, Fabian Lysell, gets there too.
Additionally, such a move would not only clear DeBrusk’s whopping $4.850M salary (and $3.675M annual cap hit) off Boston’s books, but also, would likely enhance the trajectory of the B’s coming rebuild.
Assuming, of course, that Sweeney drafts for straight-up talent again, and not for, say, whatever Trent Frederic was supposed to be.