It’s been almost nine months since Jake DeBrusk first asked to be traded out of Boston.
And though word of his request didn’t go public until DeBrusk found himself scratched from the Boston lineup in late November, there was no denying the downright strange storyline that went on for almost three months.
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DeBrusk was booed (though mildly, we’ll say) in his first home game after word of the request circulated, and the Bruins never quite found themselves in a spot where they could potentially pull DeBrusk from the lineup and focus their efforts on a trade. Injuries, suspensions, and COVID made that impossible for the Bruins for almost a full month. And then they didn’t want to pull him out of action given his resurgence and play. It just felt… strange. For all involved.
But the strangest ending possible came on Monday, with the Bruins and DeBrusk coming to terms on a two-year, $8 million extension on the final day that the sides could find a trade partner for the 25-year-old wing.
So, uh, what the hell was that?
“I’ve been having discussions on Jake for months,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney admitted Monday. “Today wasn’t any different in terms of where teams thought he fit into their group and what they were trying to do. Some teams were down the road on other things, and we’ll pivot back maybe. But it doesn’t really matter at this point.”
The Bruins hammered out DeBrusk’s two-year extension out at around 10 a.m. on deadline day. Was it the start of what they hoped would be a potential sign-and-trade to appease DeBrusk and his camp? Was it going to be part of a bigger deal for the Bruins to will into existence between then and 3 o’clock? This would be in line with the idea of an aggressive market shifting in the Bruins’ favor after months of offers that failed to generate any interest from the B’s point of view. But all that is unclear. And, in the words of Sweeney himself, it doesn’t really matter at this point.
Instead, the deadline came and went with DeBrusk still in town, and with the proverbial light at the tunnel still there.
“I think this really puts some clarity for Jake in the sense that he doesn’t have any trade protection so we could’ve moved him prior to the deadline, we could revisit in the summertime. He could also go forward most importantly with just playing hockey and realizing that he’s a big part of our team,” Sweeney offered. “He’s gone in and played well with [Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand]. Hopefully we’re going to have that when Bergeron gets back. We’re going to need Jake. We feel that he’s an important part of our hockey club. We wanted him to feel that way. It also sends a message to everyone that there’s clarity there in moving forward if we were going to explore something. Didn’t really mean today at all, just means moving forward.”
From the jump, the Bruins made it clear and repeated that they weren’t going to trade DeBrusk just to say they did it. And when DeBrusk moved up to the top line, that thinking became firm. Even if he’s not an ideal fit, the Bruins were not going to rob themselves of a winger playing on their top line without a definite solution available. That solution did not make its way to Boston between DeBrusk’s extension and the deadline, so DeBrusk stayed in Boston.
And with the sides on the same page.
“[We] sent a clear message to Jake and he sent one to us, that he just wants to play hockey,” said Sweeney. “Bottom line is he knows he’s an important part if he plays to his capabilities, he’s going to help us and help himself.
“The impact that he can have on our hockey club, we believe in.”
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has been covering the Bruins since 2010, and has been a member of the Boston chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.