Time for Boston Bruins to make a decision on Jake DeBrusk

Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Bruins currently find themselves in a bit of a peculiar position right now. Some nights, they look capable of beating any team in the league and becoming a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. Other nights, it looks like the front office should strongly consider blowing things up and starting a rebuild right away.

But through it all, the Boston Bruins have hung around, and they are currently holding onto the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. While that would put them on a collision course with the Carolina Hurricanes as of right now (who have outscored the B’s 16-1 in their three games this season) there’s still hope Boston can make something of this season after all.

While the team has dealt with a ton of injuries and COVID related absences all season long, when everyone is on the ice, this is the deepest this team has looked in quite some time. Splitting up the “Perfection Line” has helped wake up the offense, and with just over two months to go in the regular season, the B’s are in a good spot to continue to rise up the standings.

The Bruins also have to figure out what their strategy is going to be heading into the NHL Trade Deadline (which falls on March 21st). Boston could go all in and try to make one last run at the Stanley Cup with their current core, or sell some pieces off in preparation of a rebuild. The biggest concern heading into the deadline though revolves around Jake DeBrusk, and how the team handles his early season trade request could end up being a mightily important move for the team.

The Boston Bruins need to figure out whether Jake DeBrusk is part of the team’s future

There was a point in time where this question that the team now faces with DeBrusk wouldn’t have even been a thought. DeBrusk contributed 40+ points in his first two seasons with the team, and he turned himself into an important piece of the Boston’s offensive attack. He regressed a bit in his third season before completely falling off the cliff last season.

DeBrusk labored through the 2020-21 season, as he only mustered a pitiful 14 points over 41 games. He was moved off the second line he had become a vital part of, and was even a healthy scratch at times throughout the regular season. DeBrusk struggled again to open the 2021-22 season, which eventually led to a trade request early on in the season.

At the time, a trade seemed sensible for both sides. DeBrusk was all out of sorts, and keeping off the ice wasn’t going to make things better anytime soon. He still is just 25 years old, and had proven to be an effective winger earlier in his career, which could help bring in a decent return for him, even though he already went public with his trade request.

Since then, DeBrusk has put his head down and worked on getting better. The results have finally started to go his way, as he has four goals in his last three games, with his two most recent leading the team to a win over the Seattle Kraken. DeBrusk found himself on the top line alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, and that may be a combination worth keeping together moving forward.

With the deadline now lurking, the Boston Bruins are going to be forced to make a decision on DeBrusk. On one hand, it looks like he’s finally showing signs of life, which could be what this team needs to make a deep playoff run this season. On the other hand, he’s already requested a trade, and while he’s only set to be a restricted free agent this upcoming offseason, letting him test the waters, even in a restricted capacity, comes with at least a little bit of risk.

For the most part, the Bruins are still in the driver’s seat when it comes to handling DeBrusk. Given his recent uptick in production, they probably aren’t going to be in any sort of rush to get rid of him unless there’s a substantial return. The team will still have the upper hand in contract negotiations with DeBrusk this offseason, and chances are if they want him to stick around for at least the next season they will be able to accomplish that.

The fact that this discussion is a thing after DeBrusk’s recent struggles is a good sign though. DeBrusk’s value wasn’t exactly high even just a couple weeks ago, but now that he’s finding the back of the net again, his value is going to start going back up. There’s still time for this prove to just be a fluke, but this recent stretch is the best DeBrusk has looked over the past year and a half.

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As the Boston Bruins continue to rise of the Eastern Conference standings, it feels like the front office will be aggressive in trying to turn this team into a championship contender. If DeBrusk continues to play well, it doesn’t seem like dealing him away would fit that plan.

The Bruins have proven they can play with anyone this season when they are on their game, and with DeBrusk finding his form again, that makes them all the more dangerous. Keep him on the top line with Bergeron and Marchand and see what happens over the next few weeks before making a decision heading into the deadline. And unless a really solid return comes their way, I’d expect DeBrusk to stay in town through at least the rest of the season.