The large fish some Bruins might have nonetheless been hoping the crew would land received away Wednesday night time when the Vancouver Canucks landed middle Elias Lindholm from the Calgary Flames for a whopping package deal of a roster participant (the under-performing Andrei Kuzmenko, who scored 39 targets final season), a prime prospect (Kitchener Ranger right-handed defenseman Hunter Brzustewicz) and a 2024 first-round choose.
That’s a bullet dodged.
Taking nothing away from Lindholm, a very good two-way middle who all the time appeared like an ideal match within the B’s system, however the want for a top-six pivot will not be practically as urgent as as soon as thought in October. After some stops and begins, Charlie Coyle now has a burgeoning chemistry with Brad Marchand and Pavel Zacha clicks with David Pastrnak, who can seemingly play with nearly anybody and make it a prime line.
What GM Don Sweeney ought to set his sights on is a commodity that shouldn’t be practically as costly as a Lindholm however one that may be simply as vital if you don’t have it – a nasty, bodily thumper on the again finish (Joel Edmundson, anybody?). For the cap-strapped, futures-poor B’s, that might be the extra prudent solution to proceed.
But earlier than Sweeney can take into consideration tweaking his blue line, he’s received to determine tips on how to proceed with a significant piece of his present roster – Jake DeBrusk.
DeBrusk, in fact, is scheduled to turn out to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Now that Tuukka Rask is skating his wing for the alumni crew, he’s simply probably the most polarizing determine in Black-and-Gold.
Like most political dialogue lately, any dialog regarding DeBrusk’s future is commonly dominated by the crazies on both facet. There’s the just-sign-our-Jake crowd, countered by the trade-him-for-a-bag-o-pucks crew. The latter are nonetheless sore about his early-career inconsistencies and his since-rescinded commerce request two years in the past. The former group ceaselessly sees the carefree child swooping in on his off-wing to attain the Game 7 game-winner in opposition to the Maple Leafs in his rookie season.
The B’s had been on this identical scenario with Pastrnak final season. But that deal, in some ways, was simpler than this one. Pastrnak is an elite celebrity and, as such, he was all the time going to land within the uppermost echelon of NHL stars. On commerce deadline day final season, the B’s introduced they signed Pastrnak to the richest deal in membership historical past (eight years, $90 million). While the quantity might have been jaw-dropping, it was not in the least shocking.
Now it’s DeBrusk’s flip on the trough. Landing on a greenback quantity gained’t be as straightforward. He’s not Pastrnak, however DeBrusk is an effective participant. When he’s on he’s superb. And whereas the talk of his value could be wide-ranging, he isn’t a participant you may let stroll away for nothing.
DeBrusk has reworked his sport from his first couple of years. Back then, he wasn’t providing you with a lot except he was scoring targets – and he’s not sufficient of a prolific aim scorer to stay that type of participant. He hasn’t. To his credit score, he’s turn out to be an excellent two-way participant who has realized tips on how to use his pace offensively and defensively. There’s no higher instance of that than within the B’s 5-2 win over the explosive Colorado Avalanche two weeks in the past. Not solely did he have a aim and an help, he was in a position to kill a number of promising Colorado rushes with wonderful backchecks.
That sport was peak efficiency DeBrusk in opposition to a real Stanley Cup contender.
No, he doesn’t have these video games each night time, however DeBrusk at the very least has discovered tips on how to at the very least offer you one or the opposite virtually each night time. Add that to the very fact he could be plugged into any wing spot within the prime 9 and be efficient, and DeBrusk is clearly a beneficial commodity.
But how beneficial?
The sides received one thing of a highway map towards a deal final week when the Flyers signed proper wing Owen Tippett to an eight-year extension with a median annual wage of $6.2 million. It’s not an ideal apples-to-apples comparability – the 24-year-old Tippett was nonetheless going to be an RFA; DeBrusk, 27, might be a UFA. But production-wise, DeBrusk compares favorably. He’s averaging extra factors sport (.581) and targets per sport (.303) than Tippett (.5, .264). The incontrovertible fact that DeBrusk has the PK work on his resume (Tippett doesn’t) makes $6.2 million a very good start line.
If each side are in that very same ballpark, then the deal ought to be made.
If not, then Sweeney must make a blockbuster deal by the March 8 commerce deadline in spite of everything.