Boston Bruins

Plot twist: the Boston Bruins made a decision on Jake DeBrusk, but probably not the decision you think.

Boston announced Monday that they’ve signed DeBrusk to a two-year extension with an annual cap hit of $4 million. The signing comes as a surprise, as DeBrusk has publicly acknowledged his recent requests for a trade. Thus, the 25-year-old has long been the subject of trade debates.

So, it’s fair to wonder if the signing is actually a precursor to a trade. But it’s curious why it would be necessary for the Bruins to be the ones to sign the extension. Two years at $4 million annually is manageable for whatever team ends up with DeBrusk on their roster, so the cost certainty could be attractive to a suitor. Bruins GM Don Sweeney could also be protecting himself against losing DeBrusk in free agency, or leaving open the possibility of trading him in the off-season.

DeBrusk, for what it’s worth, has been fairly productive in recent weeks, much of which has been spent on the Bruins’ top line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. He has eight goals and 11 points in his last 14 games, dating back to Feb. 19.

We’ll see if DeBrusk ends up being traded after all. The Bruins don’t seem to be done making moves, even after sending a major haul to the Anaheim Ducks for defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Kodie Curran. We’ll keep you updated with everything that goes down for the Bruins on the day of the 2022 NHL trade deadline, which passes at 3 p.m. ET Monday.

Read below for more on the Bruins at the deadline from our own Ty Anderson.

Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.


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2022 NHL trade deadline: Bruins set for 'frantic' deadline day

  • Oct 16, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Vancouver Canucks right wing Conor Garland (8) prepares during a face off against the Detroit Red Wings in the first period at Little Caesars Arena. (Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports)

    Do Bruins shift focus to the wing?

    If there’s a high price to be paid, I think the Bruins naturally gravitate towards players with term and/or players they’re confident they can keep around beyond the stretch run. They always viewed Rick Nash as more than a rental and then concussion woes had their say. Charlie Coyle came to Boston from Minnesota with term. Ondrej Kase was an oft-injured but cost-controlled wing (and that was the Bruins trying to make the best out of a bad situation by needing out of the David Backes contract) with term left on his deal, and Taylor Hall’s buy-in led to a multi-year extension between he and the Bruins. Again, if the Bruins are paying what they consider top dollar for an in-season upgrade, they really like the idea of stability.

    I think that’s important to note this time around, especially with the Canucks’ Conor Garland perhaps on the block.

    In Vancouver for a seven-game homestand and fighting for their playoff lives every single night, the Canucks capped a straight-up miserable home-ice run with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Sabres on Sunday night. That gave Vancouver a 2-3-2 record during that make-or-break run in their own building, and has left them with a 5.8 percent chance of making the 2022 playoffs, according to MoneyPuck’s latest playoff odds model. A mad dash of a sell-off could very well be underway by the day’s end.

    The Bruins have already checked in with the Canucks about some of their players, and Garland is likely at the top of their list, especially if the Canucks are not going to trade center J.T. Miller this deadline. The Bruins have been hot for Garland for a long, long time now, and he checks an awful lot of boxes for them. He’s a right-shot right wing, he’s produced within some dreadful systems between Arizona and Vancouver, and he’s under contract through 2026 at $4.95 million per season. Oh, and he’s from the South Shore as a Scituate, Mass. native, and if there’s one thing the Bruins love, it’s the South Shore. (Honestly, how isn’t MaryLou’s the official sponsor of this team by now?)

    If he’s made available, I think he jumps right to the top of their list.

    Other potential wingers of note entering deadline day: Arizona’s Phil Kessel and the Blue Jackets’ Max Domi. The latter is probably more likely than the former, but the focus really should be on adding another right shot or natural right wing. An underrated name I like: Buffalo’s Vinnie Hinostroza. He’s done some damage against Atlantic Division playoff teams this year.

     

  • Nov 26, 2021; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp (9) during a game between the Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets at Xcel Energy Center. (Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports)

    Is high-end center help actually available?

    There also continues to be chatter regarding the Jets’ Andrew Copp. The Bruins have been linked to Copp, with the 27-year-old in the midst of a career year, with 13 goals and 35 points through 56 games. Copp has also put forth an impressive year as a faceoff option, and the Bruins would love to add someone like that to take some of the weight off Patrice Bergeron’s shoulders. But Winnipeg’s asking price could be a problem for Boston, with the Jets seeking a first-round pick for the pending unrestricted free agent in a center-lacking trade market. The best they’ve been offered so far is a package of two second-round picks, according to Frank Seravalli. Unless the Bruins are trading their second-round picks into 2025, it’s not from Boston.

    And the Copp situation is an example of why the Bruins may focus on the wings this deadline.

    The Bruins were aggressive in their approach of Claude Giroux. Understandably so. He was quite literally the perfect addition for a Boston squad with potential openings at second-line center and first-line right wing. Giroux has experience at both positions, and his presence could’ve been enough to elevate the Bruins to legit Cup contender status. But he shot down a trade to Boston, and channeled his inner ’21 Taylor Hall and made it known he wanted to be in Florida. And before that happened, the market’s other top tier option, the Sharks’ Tomas Hertl, decided to sign a massive extension in San Jose.

    David Krejci also passed on a return to the Boston Bruins.

    So, who’s the next-best behind Copp if the Canucks’ Miller isn’t available? Take your pick of a project, from Dylan Strome to Jack Roslovic to Colin White. It’s not exactly a loaded group.

    If Copp is indeed the best bet on the center market, perhaps it’s best to just stick with Erik Haula in the middle of your second line and hope that you can get strong enough center support behind Bergeron on the aggregate between Haula, Coyle, and Tomas Nosek. And Jack Studnicka, who had a strong showing in last Friday’s win, remains the wild card at the position.

  • Mar 10, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen (32) makes a save on Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 10, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen (32) makes a save on Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) during the first period at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    What, if anything, happens with Jake DeBrusk?

    The Jake DeBrusk situations remains a fascinating one ahead of today’s 3 p.m. deadline.

    DeBrusk wants out — and has wanted out since last summer — but the Bruins have made it clear that they’re not selling him off for pennies on the dollar. And the Bruins have yet to be blown away, or even blow slightly back, by any of the offers they’ve received for the pending restricted free agent with 15 goals and 26 points through 57 games this season. That hasn’t stopped DeBrusk’s camp from repeatedly making it known that they’ve like a solution (read as: a trade out of town) by the deadline.

    “I’ll continue to explore,” Sweeney said Sunday when asked about a DeBrusk trade. “I don’t think Jake has changed his opinion, but that doesn’t mean [a trade] happens and I’ve said that from Day 1. If I can make it fit for the Boston Bruins and helping our team — and Jake’s helping our team — I would certainly only do it with the fact that it’s going to help our team.”

    One thing to maybe consider here: The Bruins parted with two second-round picks in the Lindholm trade. Would they ‘sell low’ on DeBrusk if they could acquire a second-round pick and then flip it for a player? And is there anybody out there who wants DeBrusk enough to part with a second-round pick? That’s been the problem from the jump, really. But as the clock ticks closer and closer to 3 p.m., the market can and will shift. It’s just a matter of whether or not it shifts in their favor.

    But it doesn’t sound like a trade just for the sake of it will happen for No. 74.

    If it does happen, however, I do believe it will involve DeBrusk going out West.

  • MONTREAL, QC – NOVEMBER 05: A detail of the Boston Bruins logo is seen during the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on November 5, 2019 in Montreal, Canada. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

    More defense on the way?

    One thing that feels like a must for the Bruins, even with Lindholm in the fold, is a move for a defenseman.

    It doesn’t have to be another home run swing by the Bruins, but the Bruins are down to seven NHL defensemen on their roster (they’ve typically carried eight under Bruce Cassidy), and Jack Ahcan has become the organization’s de facto No. 8 defensemen with Urho Vaakanainen out of the equation. Ahcan is a bit more limited in terms of usage than Vaak. Move beyond Ahcan and things get real weird, with Kodie Curran (picked up in the Lindholm trade), Tyler Lewington, and Brady Lyle the next in line.

    The Bruins are especially thin on the right side, with Lewington the next in line in terms of right shots behind Connor Clifton.

    Given the way the Bruins routinely burn through defensemen in the postseason (can someone please sacrifice a chicken or something?), I would be downright shocked if they don’t make another move for defensive depth by today’s deadline.


2022 NHL trade deadline: Will the Bruins splurge for a winger?

  • Mar 2, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Kraken center Colin Blackwell (43) advances the puck during the third period against the Nashville Predators at Climate Pledge Arena. (Steven Bisig/USA TODAY Sports)

    Colin Blackwell

    Almost every single player involved in Year 1 of the Seattle Kraken has experienced a dip in their offensive production.

    But North Andover, Mass. native Colin Blackwell’s Seattle experience has gone about as well as he could have hoped, all things considered. A versatile forward who’s bounced around the lineup quite a bit, the 5-foot-10 ex-Harvard product has put up eight goals and 16 points through 38 games with Seattle, all while averaging just 12:25 per night. One of 20 Kraken players to play at least 400 minutes of five-on-five ice time in 2021-22, Blackwell ranks fourth in points per 60 (1.75), fifth in individual scoring chances per 60 (7.16), and fourth in individual high-danger chances per 60 (3.21).

    Include his stint with the Rangers last year, and Blackwell, a right-shot forward, has totaled 20 goals and 38 points in his last 85 games. One of 318 NHL forwards to log at least 900 five-on-five minutes since the start of last season, Blackwell’s 1.67 points per 60 at five-on-five are the 160th-most among that group. That 1.67 per 60 is also better than players such as the Sharks’ Logan Couture, Philly’s Kevin Hayes, Carolina’s Teuvo Tervainen, and Devil-turned-Islander Kyle Palmieri.

    Blackwell is in the final year of a contract that pays him $725,000 per year.

  • Jan 21, 2022; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser (6) shoots against the Florida Panthers in the second period at Rogers Arena. (Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports)

    Brock Boeser

    The Bruins have had communication with the Canucks ahead of the trade deadline, and that’s no surprise given the names reportedly dangled about by the Canucks. One of those names has been winger Brock Boeser. One of the names forever mentioned by people when discussing the misses in the Bruins’ disastrous first round in 2015 (Boeser went eight picks after Zach Senyshyn), it would only be fitting that the Bruins land Boeser a good seven years later, no?

    In the midst of a campaign that’s come with 17 goals and 35 points through 56 games, Boeser finds himself on the block ahead of a summer that will certainly come with a massive payday.

    That payday feels like a legitimate automatic, honestly, and will certainly be achieved in 2022, whether it’s via his qualifying offer of a staggering $7.5 million or with an extension rewarding him for a career that’s included 115 goals and 245 points through 309 NHL games. That could be a problem for a B’s team that’ll need to hammer out a big-money extension for David Pastrnak next year, and could run the risk of roadblocking 2021 first-round pick Fabian Lysell down the road.

    Another potential issue despite Boeser’s seemingly obvious fit as a 6-foot-1, right-shot right wing? His five-on-five production hasn’t been anything special this year, with 14 five-on-five points through 56 games this year. For the sake of comparison, that would tie Boeser with Trent Frederic for ninth on the Bruins, and with Tomas Nosek and Curtis Lazar right behind him, with 12 five-on-five points each. That’s a lot of cake — and forget about the trade capital going out the door — for that production.

    The flip side, of course, is that production is almost never an issue when plugging someone next to No. 37 and No. 63.

  • Mar 26, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Anaheim Ducks left wing Max Comtois (53) attempts to deflect a shot as St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) defends the net during the second period at Enterprise Center. (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)

    Max Comtois

    This may not seem like the natural fit for what the Bruins are trying to accomplish right now, but a player that should interest them: The Ducks’ Max Comtois. Even if the 2021-22 season has been a nightmare for the left-shot left wing.

    In action for 38 games this year, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Comtois has totaled just three goals and 10 points, to go with a minus-8 rating, and has seemingly been in the doghouse from the jump. But make no mistake about it: Comtois is the kind of winger that the Bruins have repeatedly looked for as a middle-six booster, and his 2021 campaign showed that.

    One of 12 Anaheim forwards to log at least 500 five-on-five minutes last year, Comtois led the Ducks in scoring with 16 goals and 33 points, and was tops among Anaheim forwards in points (2.34) and individual high-danger scoring chances for (4.5) per 60. In fact, go beyond Anaheim and that 2.34 points per 60 was the 39th-best among a group of 277 forwards, while his high-danger scoring chances-for rate was 19th-best. Comtois also brought the nasty, with 7.59 hits and 2.84 blocks per 60. 

    This could be a situation where buying low benefits the Bruins in the long run. (Honestly, he just feels like the kind of player Tampa would acquire and the we’d watch in horror as he torments the Bruins for the next four postseasons in a row.)

  • Jan 30, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets center Max Domi (16) plays the puck during the third period at Bell Centre. (David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports)

    Max Domi

    It feels like the Bruins have been linked to Max Domi for a good little while now. I’m not sure if there’s something to that or if he just makes sense in a potential Jake DeBrusk swap should the Bruins decide that a split needs to come at the deadline. But he should indeed be an option on the trade block ahead of Monday’s deadline.

    The 5-foot-10 Domi, who broke into the NHL as a center but has since converted to wing full-time, is certainly having a seller-friendly season for Columbus, with nine goals and 32 points through 52 games. 28 of his 32 points have come at even-strength, too, making him one of the top even-strength scoring threats available on this year’s market.

    Domi is in the final year of a $5.3 million contract and will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

  • Mar 9, 2022; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Conor Garland (8) shoots against the Montreal Canadiens in the third period at Rogers Arena. Canucks won 5-3. (Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports)

    Conor Garland

    The Bruins were interested in Garland before the Coyotes sent him to Vancouver as part of the Oliver Ekman-Larsson deal, and they remain very interested in the Scituate, Mass. native now.

    Mentioned in trade rumors despite a 2021-22 campaign that’s included 14 goals and 32 points in 57 games, Garland is on the block with another four years at $4.95 million per on deck following this season.

    A player with a definite bit of swagger to his name, Garland feels like a natural fit for the Bruins in so many ways: He has heavy term left on his deal, he’s a right shot, and he is from the area. That’s a trifecta, baby. Oh, and it helps that Garland has scored the 20th-most goals among all NHL right wings over the last two years.

    The Bruins are not alone in their pursuit of Garland, however, with the Kings and Rangers also in the mix.

  • Mar 13, 2022; Hamilton, Ontario, CAN; Buffalo Sabres forward Vinnie Hinostroza (29) carries the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the third period in the 2022 Heritage Classic at Tim Hortons Field. (John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports)

    Vinnie Hinostroza

    Perhaps a name you haven’t heard much about this deadline, the Sabres’ Vinnie Hinostroza is an interesting option if you’re looking for some under-the-radar help. (I say as every team’s front office screams at me to shut the hell up.)

    Seventh among Buffalo forwards in points (21), all but one of Hinostroza’s 21 points this year have come at even strength. That equates out to 2.11 points per 60 of even-strength play in 2021-22, which ranks 113th among a field of 328 forwards with at least 500 even-strength minutes this year. The 5-foot-10 winger’s 0.95 goals per 60 of even-strength play in 2021-22 ranks 110th, while his 0.84 primary assists per 60 at even strength is good for 86th among that field of 328. Not too shabby at all.

    Hinostroza, who has played with Chicago, Arizona, and Florida in addition to the Sabres, has compiled 48 goals and 133 points in 314 total NHL games since 2015-16. He’s also making $1.05 million this year and is a pending unrestricted free agent.

    And another stat of note: Hinostroza has six goals and an assist in six total games against the top three teams in the Atlantic Division this year. Not the worst thing to add to your mix as a Boston squad chasing after ’em.

  • Feb 19, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Seattle Kraken left wing Marcus Johansson (90) skates with the puck against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. (Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports)

    Marcus Johansson

    The Bruins really don’t want to break up the Trent Frederic-Charlie Coyle-Craig Smith line. They really think they have something there, and it’s easy to see why. But if push comes to shove and the Bruins decide that putting Smith back up with Bergeron and Marchand makes ’em a greater post-deadline threat — and I gotta admit, this hypothetical operates with the idea that DeBrusk gets his deadline wish — would a reunion with Marcus Johansson be the next-best bet for Charlie Coyle?

    The Bruins’ third-line one-two punch on the way to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, it’s fair to assume that the 31-year-old Johansson will be on the move again this deadline with the Kraken completely focused on the future.

    Johansson has shown that he’s still offensively capable, too, with six goals and 23 points in 50 games this season.

  • Mar 12, 2021; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Arizona Coyotes right wing Phil Kessel (81) shoots the puck in the first period during a game against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. (David Berding/USA TODAY Sports)

    Phil Kessel

    Hey, speaking of reunions, how about Phil Kessel returning to where it all started for him 16 years ago. (16 years ago?! 16?!)

    In the final year of his deal with the Coyotes, Kessel is likely on the outs in Arizona with the Coyotes looking to acquire every single draft pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, and is in the midst of a season that’s included six goals and 31 helpers. Kessel’s season has sort of been a flip from his career norms, really, as the 31 assists are his most since he picked up 55 apples in his final season in Pittsburgh, while his 4.9 shooting percentage this season is a career-worst for No. 81.

    But if you’re a right wing-needy team like the Bruins, Kessel is an intriguing option. Especially when considering his playoff success no matter his sweater, with 34 goals and 81 points in 96 career playoff games since 2008.

    A report last month indicated that the Coyotes were having a tough time finding a potential Kessel trade partner, too, and even noted that Kessel could be had for a third-round pick and with the Coyotes willing to eat money. If that’s the price, that might be right up the Black and Gold’s alley around 2:55 p.m. on Monday afternoon.

  • Nov 26, 2021; Anaheim, California, USA; Anaheim Ducks left wing Rickard Rakell (67) moves the puck ahead of Ottawa Senators defenseman Lassi Thomson (60) during the third period at Honda Center. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports)

    Rickard Rakell

    I think the ultimate home run play for the Bruins would be a mega-package to acquire both defenseman Hampus Lindholm and winger Rickard Rakell from the Ducks ahead of Monday’s deadline. (Edit: They got halfway there with Saturday’s pickup of Lindholm.) Would it cost a ton? Of course. But it’s just a gigantic two-birds, one-stone kind of play for the Bruins, and Rakell has honestly been a B’s target for what feels like half a decade now.

    A right shot capable of playing both left and right wing (and even with a little bit of center play to his name a few years back), the 28-year-old Rakell has put up 16 goals and 28 points in 51 games this year, and is averaging 18:21 of action this year.

    And Rakell’s status as a player who loves to shoot the puck (he’s averaging almost nine shots per 60 minutes of action this season), would make him a seemingly natural fit with Bergeron and Marchand. A 6-foot-1, 195-pound forward, Rakell has also shown an ability to get to the high-danger areas that have poised problems for the Bruins throughout their playoff shortcomings, with a heat map full of scorching temperatures from the slot.

    Rakell has scored the 61st-most goals (145) and 80th-most points (304) since 2015.

  • Nov 9, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Ottawa Senators left wing Zach Sanford (13) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal against the Boston Bruins during the first period at the TD Garden. (Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

    Zach Sanford

    It’s so hard to ignore these local guys whenever they’re available. Fair or unfair, it just seems to be a trend here. And when it’s a 6-foot-4 Massachusetts native who plays both the left and right side, it’s almost impossible to ignore. Or, in this case, the Senators’ Zach Sanford is almost impossible to ignore if the Bruins are looking for some bottom-six punch.

    On the board with nine goals and 17 points through 61 games with Ottawa, Sanford has also checked in with 129 hits and 55 blocked shots, and was part of that Blues team that beat the Bruins in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

  • Jan 17, 2022; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith (19) during a face off in the first period at T-Mobile Arena. (Lucas Peltier/USA TODAY Sports)

    Reilly Smith

    The Golden Knights’ plans to perhaps ‘Kucherov’ their way to the postseason without Mark Stone is blowing up in their face.

    With losses (and injuries) mounting for Vegas, it’s entirely possible that the Golden Knights will not be good enough to finish the regular season without their best winger and team captain available and still qualify for the 2022 playoffs. But if Stone is to make a comeback before the postseason, the Knights will likely have to shed salary somewhere.

    Oh, hello, Reilly Smith.

    Another ex-Bruin, the 30-year-old Smith is a pending unrestricted free agent and has been mentioned in trade rumors with the Knights weighing the pros and cons of potentially losing him for nothing this summer. Smith has certainly remained effective for Vegas, with 16 goals and 38 points in 56 games this year, and has actually scored the 13th-most goals (138) and 16th-most points (317) among all NHL right wings since the Bruins traded him to Florida in 2015.

    And while a reunion may seem unlikely — you’d almost have to assume that Vegas would find a lesser player to trade or work some more cap magic to activate Stone, if possible — the idea of a Smith return is incredibly appealing given his past experience riding with Bergeron and Marchand on the Black and Gold’s top line.

    Together for over 1,200 minutes from 2013 through 2015, the Marchand-Bergeron-Smith line outscored opponents 69-41.

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