Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk has seemingly had his name attached to Edmonton Oilers rumor mill for what seems like an eternity. Perhaps, since he’s a hometown boy it’s only natural his name keeps getting mentioned? Or maybe it’s because his father Louie does Oilers broadcasts? Or maybe there truly is some interest? But how serious is that interest?
Those rumors were reincarnated yesterday when Bruins reporter Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic Boston answered a question submitted by a fan on the player referred to as JDB.
Q: What are the odds Jake DeBrusk gets traded? If he does, do you think this will include draft picks to land a No. 2 center? — Migalito L.
A: I have heard Edmonton remains interested in DeBrusk. Calgary to a lesser degree. Combine that with the cluster of left-shot forwards and the shortness of cap space, and trading DeBrusk remains a possibility. A No. 2 center would be the ideal return. But they are not in a great spot to trade picks. It would have to be someone of DeBrusk’s profile: an underperforming player with potential to play better elsewhere.
Fluto is a well-connected Bruins reporter and when he speaks, one should pay attention. Not everyone is perfect, and sometimes what an insider hears and report does not always come to fruition, but that doesn’t mean discussions were not taking place. If Fluto says the Oilers are interested, then I will believe him, as should you.
Fluto makes two particularly great observations that I can agree with: “The cluster of left-shot forwards” and “the shortness of cap space”, The majority of fans demand any cap relief should be allocated towards what they believe is the top priority – a second line center. There is a smaller group that believe it should go towards acquiring a top-pair left shot defender.
Truth be told, DeBrusk’s cap respite is not going to get you either for one reason: The free agent market is dried up and honestly, you’re not getting either with DeBrusk’s salary combined with the cap space the Bruins currently have. The best option one could hope for is trading DeBrusk in a package deal. And if it is a second-line center you’re attempting to get from Edmonton, that is none other then Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. But the ink is barely dry on the Nuge’s new 8-year, $41 million contract and I don’t believe Ken Holland has any interest in trading him.
As Fluto states, the Bruins are not in a great spot if they are looking to just acquire picks. But I am going to look at it from the other side – the Oilers side.
If you venture over to CapFriendly the first thing you will notice is that they are over the cap by some $3.6 million. And at this point in the offseason the Oilers still need to sign restricted free agent Kailer Yamamoto.
However, the Oilers will get the benefit of placing Oscar Klefbom and his $4,167,000 cap hit on Long Term Injury Reserve. We suspect, like all teams do, Holland will do some maneuvering to get as close as possible to the upper limit of $81.5 million before activating LTIR on Klefbom.
That in itself tells me that the Oilers cannot fit DeBrusk’s $3.675 million cap hit as it will leave the team just shy of $500,000 for Yamamoto. But wait, the Oilers would have to send someone down to the AHL. That will open up some room for Holland, but until we know what Yamamoto’s AAV comes in at, we’re just guessing here.
But it does appear that not only is it not the best situation for the Bruins to trade DeBrusk for draft pick(s), but it appears that it would be something that the Oilers would find difficult to make happen given their cap situation.
In the end, if a deal were to happen it would most likely involve a player coming back to Boston, one that, as Fluto says, is a right-hand shot. If you glance at the Oiler’s roster, who makes sense – Yamamoto himself? Jesse Puljujarvi who is just began to find his NHL game one season ago?
And that leads to my final question: Why would the Oilers do that?
Fluto also mentions the Flames having interest to a lesser degree. Calgary may actually be the better partner here as they have cap space and they also have a player or two they can afford to part with.