Toronto Maple Leafs still eyeing Boston Bruins forward ahead of free agency

Things could get very interesting when free agency begins on July 1 between Jake DeBrusk, the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Apr 27, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares (91) battles for the puck with Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) during the first period in game four of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares (91) battles for the puck with Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) during the first period in game four of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
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Each day that comes off the calendar in June, is one day closer to the beginning of NHL free agency on July 1. The Stanley Cup has yet to be handed out as the Edmonton Oilers have turned a 3-0 series deficit against the Florida Panthers into a 3-2 deficit ahead of Friday night's Game 6 in Canada.

Despite the Stanley Cup Final still being played, eyes have turned to free agency in 11 days and one name that will get a lot of interest is pending Boston Bruins unrestricted free agent Jake DeBrusk. Boston GM Don Sweeney held onto him at the trade deadline, yet again, and now with the Black and Gold's season over for the last month, it appears that his time wearing the Spoked-B is all but done.

Of course that could change with a deal between DeBrusk and the Bruins, but with each passing day, it seems more and more unlikely. Sweeney deflected questions about contract negotiations between the player and team to DeBrusk's camp in May, which is all you need to know how talks were going.

If DeBrusk hits the open market next month, there is going to be a long list of suitors for his services., including a long-time Boston Atlantic Division rival.

Toronto Maple Leafs still interested in Boston Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk

Shortly after the Bruins were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by Florida, rumors began swirling that Toronto might make a run at DeBrusk in free agency. This would not be surprising as the Maple Leafs signed a former Bruins forward in free agency last summer Tyler Bertuzzi. There was a report recently that Bertuzzi and Toronto were going to try and work out a contract before free agency, but if they still have interest in DeBrusk, Bertuzzi's contract negotiations can't be going well. Nick Kypreos of the Toronto Star recently wrote,

"The Leafs continue to look at all options when it comes to their top six forwards next season. There’s word they may have interest in pending Bruins free-agent Jake DeBrusk, who’s been a Leafs playoff killer over the years."

Nick Kypreos, Toronto Star

Toronto, like all teams including the Bruins, are in the market for a top-six forward, but it's highly unlikely that they end up with both Bertuzzi and DeBrusk. The 14th overall pick in the 2015 Entry Draft, DeBrusk was arguably Boston's best playoff forward in 13 games this spring, which only increased his value.

DeBrusk has been a forward who has certainly had his ups and downs with the Bruins during his time in Boston, but when he's playing as well as he can, he's certainly a difference-maker on the ice. Losing him for nothing in free agency is a business nowadays, but losing to him the Maple Leafs where he could step in and flourish in their lineup would be a tough pill for Bruins' fans to swallow. Things are going to get very interesting over the next couple of weeks.

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