With the first round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft just under an hour away, Boston Hockey Now has learned that since speaking to the media on Monday morning, Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney has been working the phones feverishly to trade for a first round pick tonight and it appears forward Jake DeBrusk is the player being mentioned most in talks.
“I can tell you right now that Don’s main goal heading into today and even more so today has been to get back into the first round and draft a high-end pick tonight,” an NHL source told BHN late Tuesday afternoon. “Remember what he did in 2015? That’s what he’d love to do tonight from the sounds of it. Lots of GM’s told me they have been in constant touch with Don.”
On Monday, Sweeney acknowledged that he would love to get into the first round that is littered with top-end talent in what many are calling the best NHL Draft since 2003.
“Well, it’s certainly difficult,” Sweeney acknowledged. “Your scouts do a tremendous amount of work and you’d like to reward them. Clearly, the first round is talent-laden, the draft is deep overall. I think if the opportunity presents itself, we’re going to have to explore it. There has been plenty of talk overall but it hasn’t been a heck of a lot of player movement and such, but we’re getting down to the final stages so if anything is going to happen, it has to happen within the next 48 hours to get in, if you’re trying to trade back in. there’s been some discussions. It’s just expensive this time of the year.”
According to the same source, DeBrusk has been the main bait for Sweeney to lure in a first round pick. Would DeBrusk be able to pry away the 28th pick overall from the Ottawa Senators who also own the third and fifth overall picks tonight? What about the New York Rangers who have let it be known that they will draft the consensus top pick overall Alexis Lafrenière with the first pick overall but are willing to deal the 22nd overall pick? The New Jersey Devils (7th, 18th, 20th) and Anaheim Ducks also have multiple first round picks and could be interested in the 23-year-old winger who is set to become a restricted free agent on Friday.
The Montreal Canadiens acquired forward Josh Anderson, a Bruins trade target, from the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday, sending forward Max Domi and a 2020 third round pick. The Habs are reportedly not done and would love to add another scoring winger. Imagine a DeBrsk to Montreal trade for the 16th overall pick? Highly unlikely but this is 2020!
Could Bruins Still Trade Rask?
Though Sweeney did his best to squash rumors that Tuukka Rask was on the trade block, multiple sources confirmed Tuesday that the Bruins starting goalie and 2020 Vezina Trophy finalist was still in play for the right price. Prior to and at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Sweeney was on a warpath to draft Norwood, MA native and former Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin. The Hurricanes took Hanifin fifth overall and Sweeney answered that with two blockbuster trades.
In his first draft as Bruins GM, Sweeney traded defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames for the 15th and 45th and 52nd picks overall at the 2015 NHL Draft and then dealt away fan favorite Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings for the 13th overall pick, goalie Martin Jones and defenseman Colin Miller.
Of course, Sweeney will forever be bashed with what he then did with picks 13-15, taking defenseman Jakub Zboril, DeBrusk, and forward Zach Senyshyn. Mathew Barzal, Kyle Connor, Thomas Chabot, Evgeny Svechnikov, Joel Eriksson Ek, Colin White, Ilya Samsonov, Brock Boeser, Travis Konecny and Anthony Beauvillier were all still on the board. All are regular NHLers now for their respective teams and only DeBrusk has been able to stay in the show for the Bruins. To say trading DeBrusk to get back in the first round tonight would be ironic would be an understatement but it very well could happen.
Another twist of irony, and this is just spitballing here, would be to trade Rask to the Calgary Flames – who want an elite goalie bad – for Hanifin and the 18th overall pick. There’s no confirmation that has been discussed but many feel Rask is still in play. Remember, on Monday when he did his best to silence the rumors, Sweeney never said Rask would definitely be a Bruin when the 2020-21 season begins.
“No. No,” Sweeney said when asked if Rask’s status had changed. “As a matter of fact, our staff has communicated with Tuukka, and as I said before, he remains a big part of our roster planning going forward, because I think, by my knowledge, he was second in the Vezina balloting.”
Who’s to say part of that ‘roster planning’ isn’t trading Rask? Freeing up that $7 million cap hit form Rask could clear the cap space they’d need to finally acquire Oliver Ekman-Larsson and add more grit and scoring up front.