Instead of a rental perhaps there’s a another option
On the horizon the Colorado Avalanche are expected to make their annual trade deadline acquisition but while many are thinking a short-term rental type deal what if the Avalanche instead went for a younger player who can contribute much longer than for just a couple months? Similar to when Joe Sakic held on to his assets and used them to make smart moves in the offseason for players such as Andre Burakovsky and Devon Toews, the thinking should be to poach another depth piece the opposition can’t afford to keep. A player looking for a fresh start and increased role with attributes that fit the Avalanche’s team identity, Jake DeBrusk is an attractive target come deadline day on April 12th.
As one of Boston’s infamous 2015 first round draft picks, DeBrusk taken at 14th overall is the one who has established himself as a NHL regular with 224 games under his belt at 24 years of age. He has scored 65 goals and 62 assists in that span as mostly a middle-six left shot left wing with a career high of 27 goals in the 2018-19 season. DeBrusk stands at 6-foot and 194lbs with his skating as one of his best attributes.
A creative, skilled forward, he also boasts plenty of determination and competitive spirit (which likely comes from his father, former NHL tough guy Louie DeBrusk). Also has great hands and natural goal-scoring acumen. Skates well and displays sound two-way instincts.
Jake DeBrusk is no stranger to the rumor mill as a potential cap saving move for the perennially cap-strapped Boston Bruins but recently has been in the headlines for possible change of scenery reasons as well. At a $3.675M price tag through the 2021-22 season DeBrusk is Boston’s sixth highest paid forward. His production has disappointed this year as he’s only scored seven points in 21 games after an early season injury.
Exploring deeper into DeBrusk’s season reveals that he’s shooting individually at 2.73% and his teammates are converting at a 4.55% clip at even strength with him on ice for a PDO of .971. As someone who has shot 11.7% over his career prior to this season it is easy to see why his point totals have sagged. On the power play DeBrusk has faired a bit better with two goals in just under 30 minutes of play on the man advantage but he is still shooting at just 7% in that situation. DeBrusk is generating shot attempts a little under his career average but is still among the top six Bruins forwards in shots on goal per 60. His Corsi For percentage has held up at 52.37% as well.
DeBrusk is someone who has had a consistent and productive three seasons prior to this one with over 40 points in each, isn’t a negative impact on teammates and is getting dragged down with mostly bad luck in the finishing department. He has cost certainty for the next two years and is still a RFA after that so that the acquiring team has full control and options available to either cut ties or make a commitment to DeBrusk after the 2021-22 campaign.
The Avalanche are still a bit light on power forwards with a nose for the net who thrive on getting goals in the crease area. If they are not able to retain the services of Brandon Saad when he hits the open market this summer it would be nice to already have a cheaper and younger option waiting to fill that role.
With a fully healthy lineup it’s tough to see where exactly DeBrusk fits in on the Avalanche but that is going to be true for any skater they pick up at the deadline, As a middle six type player DeBrusk has the versatility move all around the lineup similarly how Joonas Donskoi is utilized. It’s also not tough to see him contributing more on special teams than he does in Boston.
DeBrusk fits in with the core of the Avalanche squad who were mostly drafted between the years of 2013-17 and carries a fair amount of playoff experience with 49 games played at his young age. His speed would compliment the other Avalanche forwards very well and as his tenacity on the puck is a great match for Jared Bednar’s system. The edge to DeBrusk’s game would be a welcome physical element the Avalanche can lack at times, too.
Once thought of as a long term building block for the Bruins it seems they are now willing to part ways with DeBrusk. As reported in The Athletic a large return is not expected and Boston is open to a change of scenery type deal.
The Bruins would have to pursue a hockey trade for a like-minded forward or left-shot defenseman — young, high ceiling, underperforming for whatever reason.
Boston’s prospect pool is sparse but it makes sense they are not interested in dealing DeBrusk for futures but instead for a young player who might be able to help win now. The Avalanche are getting thin on draft picks themselves now missing a second, fourth and sixth round pick for 2021 plus the 2022 second rounder is gone as well so they’d be wise to hold on to their remaining draft pick assets and look to deal in other ways.
What the Avalanche have are young NHL ready players who for whatever reason don’t seem to be in their future plans which could become prime trade assets at the upcoming trade deadline and offseason. If the Avalanche have internally decided to move on from any of Martin Kaut, Shane Bowers or Conor Timmins then the time is of the essence to get any value out of the return as they inch closer to waiver eligibility. All three could play for the Bruins immediately, provide cheap Entry Level Contract value to help their cap situation and they each still possess upside due to their age, draft pedigree and ceilings.
While it seems like Tyson Jost has finally found his niche on the Avalanche he could also still be a trade chip in the right situation. Jost continues to not produce offense with only four points in 27 games this season but he has the established NHL resume with 235 career games played and the 10th overall pick in 2016 pedigree to his name. Any combination of these players could entice the Bruins to look at making the deal.
Other potential targets: