NHL Rumor Mill – April 7, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 7, 2022

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DeBrusk, 25, has not rescinded the trade request he made earlier this season.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.