The Boston Bruins second-round elimination by the New York Islanders raised questions over the futures of pending free agents Tuukka Rask, David Krejci and Taylor Hall. It also sparked speculation linking Jake DeBrusk to the Edmonton Oilers.
A 24-year-old Edmonton native, DeBrusk enjoyed back-to-back 40-plus point performances during his first two seasons with the Bruins. However, the left winger netted 35 points in 65 games last season and just 14 points in 41 contests this year, spending most of his time skating on his off-wing. He was also held to three points in 10 playoff games this spring.
Trade rumors dogged DeBrusk in 2019-20 but the Bruins re-signed him to a two-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $3.675 million. However, his struggles this season could test the Bruins' patience.
On June 10, The Boston Globe's Matt Porter suggested DeBrusk could be shopped for a helpful secondary player. Three days later, the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson wondered if the Oilers should attempt to acquire the young winger.
Matheson felt DeBrusk's speed and normally good hands could make him a fit on Edmonton's second line. Moving him would free up some much-needed cap space for the Bruins to re-sign Rask, Krejci and Hall.
The sticking point for the Oilers is the $4.85 million in actual salary DeBrusk will earn in 2021-22. Matheson suggested clearing $3 million from their books, wondering if Boston would be interested in Zack Kassian. That's unlikely given the 30-year-old Kassian's age and the Bruins' limited cap space.
If the Bruins shop DeBrusk they'll likely seek an affordable return such as a quality prospect or a young NHL-ready forward. They could also retain him if they fail to re-sign Hall.