NHL Rumor Mill – April 7, 2022

by | Apr 7, 2022 | Rumors | 18 comments

An update on Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk and some Sharks trade candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty reports Jake DeBrusk’s performance has improved since the trade deadline passed. The Boston Bruins winger has exceeded the 20-goal plateau this season and remains on the top line alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

DeBrusk, 25, has not rescinded the trade request he made earlier this season. It’s difficult to know if his recent improvement will carry over into the playoffs or what the future holds despite signing a two-year contract extension before the March 21 trade deadline.

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa believes DeBrusk has made himself too invaluable for the Bruins to trade in the offseason unless his performance tumbles in the postseason. If other general managers come calling this summer, Bruins GM Don Sweeney would set the price higher than it was before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed DeBrusk and Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy didn’t see eye-to-eye. The winger’s trade request seemed borne out of frustration over his usage on the Bruins’ checking lines rather than as a scorer.

However, DeBrusk’s performance has gotten better since being moved onto the top line with Marchand and Bergeron in mid-February. His production remains streaky as he’ll go on stretches without scoring but he has 14 goals and 19 points in 22 games over that period.

Earlier in his career, DeBrusk showed he could step up in postseason play. If he regains that form in this year’s playoffs, he could indeed make himself too valuable to trade. Then again, he could also improve his value, perhaps to the point where a rival GM is willing to overpay for his services.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka recently reported the San Jose Sharks could be forced to make one or two cost-cutting moves to free up salary-cap space to re-sign Alexander Barabanov. The 27-year-old winger has developed solid chemistry this season with linemates Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier. However, he’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Pashelka observes the Sharks have $70.1 million invested in 16 players for 2022-23 with restricted free agent Mario Ferraro and Kaapo Kahkonen to re-sign. They must also ensure they have sufficient cap space for 2023-24 to sign Meier to a contract extension.

The Sharks could over $2 million in savings by trading James Reimer or Adin Hill this summer as they won’t need three goaltenders with Kahkonen in the fold. They could try shopping winger Kevin Labanc and his $4.725 million contract or defenseman Radim Simek and his $2.25 million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks will have an easier time finding trade partners Reimer or Hill and for Simek than they will for Labanc, who’s signed through 2023-24. The 26-year-old winger’s production has plummeted from his career-high of 56 points in 2018-19. He missed five games with COVID-19 last fall and has been sidelined with a dislocated shoulder since Jan. 2.


  1. If Debrusk continues his level of play in the post season. They should be able to bundle him along with a second and prospect for Hertl no problem. Heading into Friday with Tampa will be like riding into the lions den aboard a Schwann Flyer, armed with a Maxi Shot Water Gun. Unless Pasta’s back or Hampus in the lineup the bruins are toast.

    • Bruins not going after Hertl AND Sharks signed him to 8 year ext to keep him not move him Would have gotten more then that offer at the deadline


  2. Sharks could also save cap space by buying out Lebanc, no? that’s assuming he’s recovered from his injury

    • I’m also wondering at what point do they buy out Vlassic. While he’s ok as a third-pair D, he’s way too expensive for such a role.

    • mikep, with $70,210,000 committed to 16 (which includes $2,416,607 for 1 year and $1,666,667 for the following 4 years for the buyout of Martin Jones), they have $12,296,000 with which to sign 7.

      Their 8 RFAs (Leonard (Arb), Gadjovich, Chmelevski, Gregor, Dahlem (Arb), Ferraro, Meloch (Arb) and Kahkonen) combined for a collective $6,386,666 off the cap this season, and even if one or two wind up back in AHL, the NHL cap hits of the 7 retained (which could include UFA Barabanov) should be easily absorbed within the $12 mil + on hand.

      But, man, it’s almost impossible to look at the Sharks situation going forward and not see 4 bloated contracts costing $34.5 mil off the cap for aging players that stick out like a sore thumb.

      Couture – $8 mil – 5 more years to 2026-27 when he is 38; Karlsson – $11.5 mil – 5 more years to 2026-27 when he is 36; Vlasic – $7 mil – 4 more years to 2025-26 when he is 39; Burns – $8 mil – 3 more years to 2024-25 when he is 40

      • That’s a lot of old money George.

        The Hertl contract is an over payment, with all the other contracts already in place. The Hertl one just seems like another bad contract.

        If it was a 5yr contract, Ok. He has never been a point a game player

        There isn’t a large differential between his goals and assist; when his goal scoring slows this will be a hard contract to move.

      • Caper, yeah, I thought about including that one as well – he’s only 28 now (turns 29 in November) and when it runs out in 2029-30 he’ll be 35.

        Locking up your best players is, in itself, not a bad strategy, but when you do that with a block of your roster for terms longer than 5 years when they’re already in their late 20s, you had better hope they remain healthy and are still producing close to what they were at the time of the signing or else you’re about to enter some lean years.

        Hard to know what to do in those circumstances, I suppose. Had they not re-signed Hertl for that term would someone else have jumped in with a long-term offer? Probably. But then, he’d better make a significant early difference in the new team’s fortunes because, if not, he then becomes their albatross contract.

        Classic damned if you do – damned if you don’t.

  3. All those contracts would be not that bad if there was no Covid the crushed the cap figure if cap was 10 mil higher like it should have been But a lot of teams stung by it not just sharks

    • Certainly no denying that Mrbruin4 – hardly a team that hasn’t been adversely affected by that unforeseen situation – which makes me wonder if the league should not come up with some sort of formula that provides cap relief.

      But in the case of the Sharks, even without the Covid effects they’d still be forking over big buck to 4 aging players who are not going to be getting any better as the years tick by, thanks to doling out long-term deals without obviously considering the possible adverse effects on their performances as they grew older.

    • You sign players to huge contracts ending when they are 38-40 and blame the salary cap? A bad contract is a bad contract and you have to keep playing them or buy them out.

  4. Jake Debrusk is playing his best hockey since the 18-19 season.

    What’s most encouraging for myself is his physical play. I have not seen Jake this physical since the Kadri cross check.

    He’s playing top line, 2nd power play unit and kills penalties.

    Bruce Cassidy has been giving Debrusk rave reviews.

    Presently life is really good in Debrusk world, not trading Debrusk at the DL was a very good move. He has added value to the team and if traded in the off season added value to his return. Which as of today is a lot more then a 2nd round pick.

    • DeBrusk, or DeBust as my kid calls him is playing as well as you or I or even Colin White would….on a TOP LINE. As soon as you move him down the line up, stunner, he’s not as happy with the role and doesn’t produce as much. In the case of White he was playing with Mark Stone and Matt Duchene. Then the team went into the toilet and he didn’t live up to the contract. Similar deBrusk not living up to where he was drafted.

      I agree with his physical play of late too. It creates space for a player even without the puck. deBrusk also had a terrible case of the “fly byes” earlier in the season, and simply skated though the play and wasn’t around in the right spot to finish.

    • I doubt you coulda have got a second for him several months ago. Good play by Boston.

    • I don’t think the B’s were ever trading DeBrusk for a 2nd, I doubt they would have traded him for a 1st unless they had a 2nd deal done to replace his scoring because they need him and his goals this year.

      DeBrusk’s career goals/game is an average of 23 over 82 games. Which he hasn’t played yet, but the last 2 were shortened.

      He was producing very well for a 3rd line player compared to other 3rd line players, better than almost all other LW’s in that role.

      Agree with the take on too many fly byes last year and early this year, but turned it around. I think playing in the checking role helped him in that regard.

      He had a tough year last year, gut bumped down the lineup as he should have. Cassidy taught him a lesson he needed to learn, and looks like he did. He is producing better than Smith was on the first line, and Smith fits better on the 3rd.

      IMO last year looks like the anomaly. He is a good player who can skate, disrupt on the fore check and score some goals. Not trading a 25 yr old like him when his value was at an all time low seemed like a no brainer to me.

  5. I think Debrusk was in SOP’
    Doghouse .
    SOP must have had an encouraging talk with him

    • Or maybe his dad did who might have reminded him about the pitfalls of moving around as he played for something like 14 teams over the course of his career.

    • Nah, Jake was never in my “doghouse”

      I share the same opinion as Ray and Caper on the kid.

      It’s a man’s league. Kids have to either be blessed with physical attributes and snarl from birth, or they have to gain those skills and grow up quickly.
      Jake, like most of the young skilled players in the league, seems to have elevated his willingness to get dirty and throw his body around a bit more.
      Good to see.
      Playing with a guy like Marchand will do the trick.
      Watching a 5’8″ 180lb guy take liberties with large men, and play without fear……(and add in his knack for the dirty stuff) would be inspiring to some.
      Looks like a little rubbed off on Jake.

      PS, is Nylander still trash?