Everyone knows Jake DeBrusk and his camp have asked for a trade, but with all that is happening now with the Boston Bruins, when could we finally see a deal come to fruition?
The Bruins have several players out due to COVID-19 protocol and would anyone be surprised to see more players added to the list? The Bruins need bodies, especially NHL bodies. But their game on Saturday versus arch rival Montreal has been postponed as well as the December 23 game versus Colorado and there could be more on the way.
The NHL holiday roster freeze comes into effect at 11:59 pm on December 19, 2021 and runs through 12:01 am on December 28, 2021. Unless General Manager Don Sweeney can work out a deal in the next two days, the earliest we could see a deal in December 28 when the Bruins are scheduled to fly to Ottawa with a match the next night against the Senators. (If that game does not get postponed).
Sweeney is left with about a four-week window – the month of January – before a roster freeze goes into effect again, this time for the Olympics for about three weeks beginning on February 2, 2022. Once out of that freeze on February 23, 2022 there is one last four-week window until the March 21 trade deadline.
With about half the league in Long Term Injury Reserve space, making a deal with them will be difficult. Many GMs around the league are quoted as saying “with the situation we are in cap wise, we can only make a dollar-in dollar-out deal” or something to that effect.
As reported here on Dom-Hockey, one of those interested teams were the St Louis Blues who have gone through a COVID situation of their own to go along with players out due to injuries. They had to put any interest on hold as “the timing isn’t right” and needed to get their roster in order and everyone back before they could even consider a deal.
The Chicago Blackhawks were another team reported here to show interest. The Hawks too are into LTIR space and require a dollar-for-dollar deal, otherwise it won’t work for them. The Vancouver Canucks were also reported here as having interest but as I said when the Canucks basically cleaned house, they were going to take 12 to 15 games to see where they are at, and they are at a 6-game winning streak, so the Canucks aren’t heading down the “let’s changes things up with a trade” path at the moment.
A new team has surfaced (here anyway) and that is the New York Islanders. No one in the hockey world expected the Islanders to be where they are at. Of course, their record was affected by a 13-game road trip to begin the season and a COVID situation of their own. The Islanders too are into LTIR but if there is any GM that can find a way to make things work its Lou Lamoriello. If Lou wants it to happen, it will happen.
We all know Sweeney will hold out until he gets the best deal he possibly can. And to get the best deal he possibly can, it will require a lot more than the reported 12 teams interested. And that might mean waiting until as close as possible to trade deadline day. Because of the way the cap works, if Sweeney waited until trade deadline, an acquiring team would only have to absorb a cap hit of $735,000 to acquire DeBrusk. In comparison, if a team acquired him today, they would need to absorb a cap hit of $2,431,154.
Waiting opens up many more opportunities. But will Sweeney wait? There are media reports that suggest DeBrusk is willing to wait until Sweeney pulls the trigger, but is he willing to wait until March?
It’s also possible that waiting that long may entice DeBrusk to rescind his trade request. However unlikely it is possible and it’s not new to the NHL. On September 24, 2016, Jacob Trouba asked for a trade from the Winnipeg Jets. But on November 7, 2016, he rescinded that request and signed a two-year deal with the Jets.
Also in September 2016, Travis Hamonic requested a trade from the New York Islanders. It took a little longer for Hamonic to rescind his trade request then it took Trouba, finally rescinding it on May 9, 2017.
There are many other examples but I chose these two examples that show the varying times between asking for a trade and finally rescinding the trade request. I’m not suggesting or even hoping (or am I?) that DeBrusk has a change of heart. But in 50 years of watching and following hockey closer than I probably should have, I have learned in this business you can never say never. It’s a long time between requesting a trade and trade deadline – if it goes that far – and one could have a change of heart.
How would the Bruins react to such a thing? I actually think Sweeney would be okay with it, especially if he doesn’t get close to what he thinks DeBrusk’s value is. I actually think Cam Neely, who sometimes lets his emotions get the best of him, would have a more difficult time.
This is all speculation of course. But it doesn’t appear today that the Bruins are close and neither is the rest of the league.
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