Boston Bruins

CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 17: Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 17, 2018 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

The inevitable split between the Bruins and Jake DeBrusk is officially upon us.

It couldn’t come at a worse time, either. Beyond the obvious of the B’s status as a team without their top left winger for the next three games due to a suspension, the 25-year-old hasn’t exactly rebuilt his value to where the Bruins would have hoped, with three goals and six points through 17 games this season prior to his scratch on Sunday night.

The DeBrusk camp also went public with word of their desire for a trade, which is, uh, never great for one’s trade value.

It’s all left Bruins general manager Don Sweeney in the unenviable position of trying to turn a poop sandwich (quick shoutout Justin Wlliams) into something palatable for a Black and Gold team that most definitely needs help.

So, just who or what could fit the bill for the Bruins in search of a helpful return?

  • Dylan Strome (Forward, Chicago Blackhawks)

    Apr 3, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Dylan Strome (17) skates off the ice after a shutout loss against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

    This one might make too much sense, to be honest.

    It’s been previously reported that the Blackhawks are interested in moving center Dylan Strome and there’s been rumblings of the team having an interest in a top-six winger. The B’s, meanwhile, could use some additional depth at a center-by-committee plan that’s yet to produce a viable third-line solution.

    The No. 3 overall pick from the 2015 NHL Draft, Strome has scored one goal and three points through 12 games this season, and is only a couple of years removed from a career-high 20 goals and 57 points in 78 games between the Coyotes and Blackhawks in 2018-19. Since then, Strome has compiled 22 goals and 58 points in 110 games with Chicago. There’s some slight health concerns (Strome missed 11 games last due to a concussion, the second of his NHL career), but the 6-foot-3 frame and potential is certainly enticing when it comes to salvaging DeBrusk’s exit.

    Strome, like DeBrusk, is also in the final year of his deal and will be an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent in 2022. The money isn’t too far off, either, with DeBrusk on the hook for a $3.675 million cap hit compared to Strome’s $3 million cap hit.

  • Brock Boeser (Winger, Vancouver Canucks)

    Nov 9, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser (6) handles the puck against the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

    Hopes of this being a one-for-one are probably pretty slim, but we know that the Canucks have had an interest in DeBrusk in the past and Boeser is one of these players whose name comes up in the rumor mill at a similar clip.

    A right-shot wing, Boeser is off to a slow start in 2021-22, with four goals and nine points through 20 games, but has scored at least 16 goals in his previous four seasons, including three seasons of at least 23 goals.

    Vancouver’s situation as a free-falling franchise in need of a potential shake-up (Jim Benning is likely GMing for his job right now) may help the Bruins’ odds of prying Boeser loose, but a DeBrusk-Boeser swap feels like something that would have to include more from the Bruins or be part of a much bigger deal between the teams.

    Boeser, by the way, comes with a $5.875 million cap hit this season, and will be an arbitration-eligible free agent at the end of the season.

  • Max Domi (Forward, Columbus Blue Jackets)

    Apr 27, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Max Domi (16) controls the puck against Detroit Red Wings center Joe Veleno (90) in the third period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

    You’re probably noticing the trend here, but just in case you haven’t: Max Domi is another pending free agent in the final year of their current deal. But the difference between Domi and the other guys mentioned so far? The 26-year-old Domi, making $5.3 million this year, will be an unrestricted free agent when his deal expires in 2022.

    There’s obvious risk in that. Considerable, in fact. But given their organizational uncertainty, that may be the kind of deal that the Bruins want to make here.

    Domi’s start in Columbus this season may be enough to get the Bruins excited, too.

    In action for nine games this season, the 5-foot-10, 194-pound Domi has put up three goals and nine points. One of 13 Blue Jacket forwards with at least 100 five-on-five minutes played this season, Domi ranks first in points per 60 (3.52), fifth in shots per 60 (7.63), fourth in individual expected goals (0.73), and his 8.22 individual scoring chances per 60 are the fifth-most among that group of Columbus forwards.

    Domi is also drawing 1.17 penalties per 60 minutes.

    Now, Domi is honestly working on a limited sample size and has been riding a hot streak in terms of on-ice success and offensive-zone minutes. But the frequently-snakebitten Bruins could certainly use more of that.

    Across the board.

    Domi, who can play both center and wing, put up a career-high 28 goals and 72 points with the Canadiens in 2018-19.

  • Max Comtois (Forward, Anaheim Ducks)

    Apr 30, 2021; Anaheim, California, USA; Anaheim Ducks left wing Max Comtois (53) moves the puck against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    When there’s a trade to be made, it never hurts to look towards teams with a history of trading with one another, which leads us to Anaheim. Trade partners on two separate occasions in 2020, there’s no shortage of players that could be of interest to the Bruins in a potential DeBrusk-to-Anaheim deal.

    But one that may be a good ‘trading places’ fit for both parties: Max Comtois.

    The No. 50 overall pick in 2017, Comtois scored a career-best 16 goals and 33 points in 55 games with the Ducks last season, but entered the year with his name on the trade block and appeared in 13 games this season before a hand injury shelved him earlier this month. The injury required surgery that’s come with a six-week recovery timeline, which makes any deal a potentially dicey one, but this might be the kind of trade that fits the bill for both sides.

    Standing at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Comtois is the kind of winger that the Bruins could use in their middle six long term, 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 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.   

    If this a player the Ducks truly want to move on from for whatever reason, the Bruins almost have to call and see if there’s a deal to be made.

    Comtois is signed for this year and next at an affordable $2.037 million cap hit, and will be a restricted free agent at the end of that deal.

  • Chris Tierney (Center, Ottawa Senators)

    Apr 17, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Ottawa Senators center Chris Tierney (71) during the warm-up session before the game against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

    Probably not an exciting name, but one that may make sense all the same? The Senators’ Chris Tierney.

    In the final year of a contract that comes with a $3.5 million cap hit, there’s almost no reason for the rebuilding Senators to keep the 27-year-old pivot beyond this season. And Tierney, who has five goals and an assist through 19 games this season, could make sense for a Boston squad in need of some third-line stability.

    There’s also a report that the Senators were among those interested in DeBrusk this offseason, and with one Sens insider predicting that they’ll ‘circle back’ now that DeBrusk wants out of the B’s organization.

    Would Zach Sanford, a New England native, makes sense? Of course. Lord knows this organization loves their local fellas. But it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Sens try to keep him around given their lack of depth at right wing.

    I’d almost expect Ottawa to throw in a pick should Tierney be the best they can offer Boston.

  • Nino Neiderreiter (Winger, Carolina Hurricanes)

    Mar 14, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Carolina Hurricanes right wing Nino Niederreiter (21) shoots during the game against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

    The Carolina Hurricanes look like an absolute wagon right now. To the point where I’m not sure that they’d want to subtract anything from their roster. But they are a team that’s previously had an interest in the 25-year-old DeBrusk, and if there’s a team that loves buy-low players, it’s the Hurricanes. Another thing about the Hurricanes: They’re not afraid to move on from key members of their core if they think there’s similar value elsewhere.

    So how about a DeBrusk for Nino Niederreiter swap?

    Again, the Hurricanes have no real reason to move Niederreiter right now. But Niederreiter is also a pending unrestricted free agent making $5.2 million per season, staying in Carolina may require taking less than his current salary. If the ‘Canes could get similar production from a young (and potentially cheaper) option in DeBrusk, it’s probably safe to say they’d explore it.

    A five-time 20-goal scorer, the 29-year-old Swiss wing has four goals and two helpers through 14 games this season. He’s also another player who could provide some much-needed touch around the front of the net, with almost 40 percent of his shots coming from the sweet spot in front of the net (per IcyData).

  • Tomas Hertl (Center, San Jose Sharks)

    Nov 13, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl (48) prepares to shoot the puck in the first period against the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    This one would have to be part of a much bigger deal for the Bruins.

    I mean, you’re talking about DeBrusk, Jack Studnicka, a first-round pick, and maybe (definitely) more.

    But turning DeBrusk’s unhappiness into a deal for a true, legit top-six center upgrade would be the definition of a victory for Don Sweeney. (And with the way his year has gone and how some of his free-agent additions look, there’s no doubt he needs one.)

    Hertl, a pending unrestricted free agent, may honestly be the Bruins’ best bet at truly replacing what they lost with David Krejci’s move to the Czech Republic, as he’s emerged as a sneaky-great faceoff threat in recent seasons and has eight goals and 13 points through 21 games this season.

  • Jeremy Lauzon (Defenseman, Seattle Kraken)

    Oct 31, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Kraken defenseman Jeremy Lauzon (55) during the game between the Seattle Kraken and the New York Rangers at Climate Pledge Arena. New York defeated Seattle 3-1. (Steven Bisig/USA TODAY Sports)

    Consider this an expansion draft do-over between the Kraken and Bruins.

    Plucked from the Bruins in last summer’s expansion draft, Jeremy Lauzon’s Seattle run hasn’t exactly gone as planned. In fact, the 24-year-old has watched the last two Kraken contests as a healthy scratch after he was on the ice for all three Tampa Bay goals against in a 3-0 loss to the Lightning.

    The Bruins, meanwhile, are still looking for the perfect defensive mix, and Bruce Cassidy loved him some Lauzon as a go-to option in the defensive zone on either the left or right side.

    The Kraken, for what it’s worth, haven’t been afraid to cut their losses with some of their picks, or trade players back to their original team if the offer is right, like they did with Vitek Vanecek when the Capitals came calling.

    But hey, screw it, let’s get real wild with it and make it part of a bigger deal between the teams.

  • Evander Kane (San Jose Sharks)

    May 3, 2021; San Jose, California, USA; San Jose Sharks left wing Evander Kane (9) after scoring a goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Evander Kane is absolutely radioactive right now. From the off ice issues to the fake vaccine card that led to his suspension, I’m not sure there’s a team that wants to touch Kane right now. In fact, nobody was willing to take a chance on him when he hit the waiver wire earlier this week. Does that change if the Sharks are willing to eat half of Kane’s $7 million per year salary through 2024-25? I highly, highly doubt it.

    But people rave about the B’s locker room, led by Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand (and with some additional help with Nick Foligno in town), so maybe the Bruins’ belief in that group makes them comfortable being the team to take that risk. That said, I’d put the odds of them actually taking that chance at, like, 10,000-to-1. Even with his personal philosophy on the line, I don’t think Kevin Malone would entertain those odds.

  • Draft picks

    CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 24: General Manager Don Sweeney of the Boston Bruins attends the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center on June 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    Probably not the sexiest return, all things considered, but the Bruins could use more draft capital either for themselves or for a potential deadline addition. The Rangers were able to turn a disgruntled Lias Andersson into a second-round pick from the Kings in 2020, and DeBrusk has an undeniably better, more established resume. A first-round pick is almost certainly out of the equation, but could a pair of seconds and a third or fourth down the road be enough for the Bruins to say they’re done with this situation and move on?