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Murphy: DeBrusk Looks Like A Playoff Rental But For Who?



Boston Bruins

With the NHL Trade Deadline less than two weeks away, many are starting to wonder if Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk is about to become a playoff rental. But more importantly, they’re asking for who?

“Does he wind up back west as a playoff rental for a contender out there – we’ve all heard the Oilers rumors – or does he become a playoff rental for the Bruins,” one NHL source asked Boston Hockey Now recently. “It sure doesn’t seem like he’s signing an extension – if he signs one – before the season’s over.”

As expected, it’s been crickets from Bruins general manager Don Sweeney because of his policy not to comment on contract talks. DeBrusk’s agent, Rick Valette has taken the same stance so far, and the only one that has directly commented on the topic has been DeBrusk himself.

In a one-on-one interview with Boston Hockey Now last month, Jake DeBrusk reiterated his desire to sign a contract extension with the Bruins.

“Yeah, of course,” Debrusk replied before the question finished. “That’s what I’ve been consistent with since – I think the first time I was asked was in the summer – but yeah. This is all I know, and I grew up here and have obviously evolved and grown in different ways. It’s one of those things where I want to win here. We were one game away in ’19, and I want to win a Cup here in Boston. So that’s my complete focus.”

By all accounts, it appears the DeBrusk camp is ready to make a deal and shift the 27-year-old winger’s complete focus to helping the Bruins achieve that goal in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. With the March 8 NHL trade deadline approaching and the contract uncertainty, DeBrusk has struggled on the ice since that interview with BHN back on Jan. 28. He was held off the scoresheet in the first seven games back from the NHL All-Star break before scoring in a 6-5 overtime win over the Edmonton Oilers this past Wednesday night. He’s been pointless in the two games since then, though.

To top it off, DeBrusk jumped over the boards too soon, early in overtime on Saturday night, and the Bruins got whacked for a too-many-men-on-the-ice bench minor 1:09 into the extra frame. Just 23 seconds later, Brock Boeser scored his second goal of the game to give the Vancouver Canucks a 3-2 overtime win.

“I think overzealous,” Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery replied postgame when Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe asked if DeBrusk’s mistake was ‘due to eagerness or mental error’ “He’s trying to do the right thing, but you just can’t get into the play.”

DeBrusk has been trying to do the right thing since the Bruins began their ill-fated 2-3-2 homestand and headed west for their current four-game road trip that concludes tonight in Seattle. The problem is, he, like those around the league, seems to be occupied with the fact that he appears set to become a playoff rental for another team or the Bruins once the NHL Trade Deadline passes. DeBrusk hopes the latter plays out, but the chance of the former happening seems much more possible than when DeBrusk professed his love for the Bruins and Boston to Boston Hockey Now last month.

Whether it’s before the NHL Trade Deadline or if and when DeBrusk hits the unrestricted free agent market on July 1, there’s a belief around the NHL that his hometown Oilers and the Calgary Flames will try to bring DeBrusk home to Alberta.

“Here’s what I do know: If the Bruins don’t sign him – and, I don’t know if they will or won’t, I’m sure they value him – I guarantee an Alberta team will offer him a major contract,” NHL analyst Pierre McGuire said on a recent Eye Test Podcast. “I guarantee you, whether it’s Edmonton or Calgary, he’s going to be taken care of in the province of Alberta. That’s if Boston doesn’t sign him, and that’s not a scare tactic; it’s reality. I mean, there’s a need for that type of player.”





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