While the rest of the hockey world focuses on the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the LA Kings front office is getting a head start on the offseason. While no moves can officially be made until July 28, one player that general manager Rob Blake should keep an eye on is Boston Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk.
The 24-year-old was drafted 14th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He had a down year in 2021, tallying just five goals and nine assists in 41 games, and seems to have fallen out of favor with head coach Bruce Cassidy.
He was a healthy scratch a few times during the regular season and landed on the NHL’s COVID Protocol list in mid-March. Two years removed from a 27-goal campaign, DeBrusk was limited mainly to bottom-six forward minutes. Something interesting to note, the Edmonton, Alberta native recorded a career-low 5.4% shot rate, down from his career average of 12.1%.
Signed to a two-year contract extension back in November, DeBrusk may need a change of scenery this offseason. Might the LA Kings be a fit for a coach who is both familiar with DeBrusk and preaches his players to shoot more?
The Boston Globe recently previewed some offseason moves for the Bruins, pegging a potential deal with the LA Kings, swapping Jake DeBrusk for Tyler Madden.
"If the Bruins aren’t taking a swing at Eichel, why not discuss DeBrusk for a center prospect who’s not far away? They’re not getting Quinton Byfield, but what about a deal involving Tyler Madden, the clever Northeastern product who spent this year with the farm club in Ontario, Calif.?Los Angeles can afford to lose a center as it rebuilds and a talented winger such as DeBrusk would fit right in — a fresh start, plenty of ice time, and a scoring role under a fellow WHL guy in Todd McLellan, who knows the DeBrusks from his time coaching Edmonton. – Boston Globe/Porter"
Madden was acquired in the Tyler Toffoli deal with Vancouver in February 2020 and was limited to just 14 games with the Ontario Reign of the AHL. Originally part of the five LA Kings prospects sent over to Germany, Madden returned to Los Angeles after his first game to have surgery on his finger.
The Kings have a boatload of centermen in their prospect pool. What they don’t have are scoring wingers they can plug in right now. DeBrusk for Madden straight-up would be a low-risk, high reward for the Kings and a win-win for both sides. If DeBrusk bounces back next year, he also comes with some team control as a restricted free agent at the end of the 2021-2022 campaign.
Despite the low point total in 2021, the left-winger logged a 52.98 xGF%, which would be a welcome addition to the Kings roster with exactly one player that logged an xGF% greater than 50 (average). That guy was Dustin Brown.
He finished the regular season on a high note, recording a point in three of the four final regular-season games. DeBrusk also tallied the first goal for the Bruins in both Game 1 and Game 2 against the Capitals.