Could the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers be dance partners on the NHL trade market?
On Wednesday, the Rangers found out that they will be without forward Sammy Blais for the rest of the season after the gritty winger tore his ACL thanks to another slew foot from New Jersey Devils defenseman and longtime Boston Bruins nemesis P.K. Subban last Sunday. In the latest edition of TSN Insider Trading, NHL insider Darren Dreger reported that the Rangers were already looking for a middle-six forward and Blais’ injury only ‘amplified’ that search.
“The Rangers have been in the market for a forward for quite some time. And I think it’s been amplified by the fact they lost Sammy Blais for the remainder of the season earlier this week,” Dreger said Thursday. “So, Chris Drury, the general manager for the New York Rangers, is looking for a middle-six forward, which isn’t a term we use often in hockey. That can be a third-line player or someone who can punch into the top six. U.S. Thanksgiving normally nudges the trade market a little, so there’s nothing on the front burner but definitely, Rangers are on the hunt.”
After some poking around via texts and calls to various and trusted NHL sources, there was no indication that the Boston Bruins and the Rangers are engaged in any substantial NHL trade talks. However, there was more than one source who said Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk is still a mainstay on the NHL trade rumor circuit amongst NHL scouts and execs. After a strong preseason, DeBrusk has just three goals and one assist in 13 games. He was recently demoted to the fourth line but to his credit, he answered the bell in the last two games with a goal and an assist.
“The consistency is still obviously an issue but the potential is still there and he’s young enough to realize it” one NHL pro scout said to BHN of the 25-year-old DeBrusk Friday. “When he plays that north-south game and gets the motor running to the net or into the corners to retrieve the puck, he’s really effective. The problem as you know is, he goes on long stretches where doesn’t do that and that’s why his name is still out there.”
Earlier this month, we reported here that while the Bruins weren’t in on the NHL trade sweepstakes for now Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel, they were on the lookout for a top 4 defenseman. A quick glimpse at the Rangers’ blue line and cap hit though doesn’t seem to present a good fit for the two teams if Bruins general manager Don Sweeney wanted a defenseman back for DeBrusk, who is the final year of a two-year contract that carries a $3.6 million cap hit. So it’s likely, Sweeney would ask for a second-round draft pick for the winger he selected 14th overall at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That would not go over well considering where DeBrusk was originally drafted but it could a.) clear DeBrusk’s cap hit off the table for the Bruins and b.) give the Rangers the middle-six forward they’re searching for and still leave them with $5.5 million in cap space.
Again, there is no indication that any of this has been discussed between Sweeney and Rangers GM Chris Drury and no one here is suggesting this is what Sweeney should do, but it could be worth watching as the NHL trade market heats up leading into American Thanksgiving next week.