Acquiring Jake DeBrusk makes sense for the LA Kings

LA Kings Rumors (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
LA Kings Rumors (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Considered to be a rising star at one point, Jake DeBrusk has fallen out of favor in Boston. Going to the LA Kings could jumpstart his career.

The 2015 NHL Entry Draft is one that most LA Kings and Boston Bruins fans would like to forget about. Just prior to the draft, the Kings traded their first-round pick in that draft (number thirteen overall), goaltender Martin Jones, and defenseman Colin Miller to the Bruins for hulking winger Milan Lucic.

At the time, Lucic was considered one of the premier power forwards in all of hockey, and he was very popular with the Boston fanbase. Jones would be sent to the San Jose Sharks shortly thereafter, and by trading Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames for a package that included the flames first-round pick, the Bruins stockpiled the 13th, 14th, and 15th overall picks in the 2015 draft.

With these picks, the Bruins selected defenseman Jakub Zboril, left-wing Jake DeBrusk, and right-wing Zachary Senyshyn. Of the three, DeBrusk has had the most success at the NHL level, but considering the next three picks, after the Bruins trio were Mathew Barzal, Kyle Connor, and Thomas Chabot, one can’t help but think that perhaps the Bruins may have missed a golden opportunity.

Speaking of disappointment, the LA Kings would soon feel the sting of regret from this trade. After a decent 2015-16 season statistics-wise, Lucic would leave for the Edmonton Oilers via free agency. The LA Kings could have had the opportunity to draft Barzal, Connor, or Chabot, but instead got one season of Milan Lucic and a first-round playoff exit at the hands of their bitter rival, the San Jose Sharks. A bitter pill to swallow indeed.

That was then, and this is now, however. Lucic, Jones, and Miller are still playing in the NHL, albeit at nowhere near the levels they once did, while Zboril and Senyshyn are still trying to find their way. Jake DeBrusk, however, has proven he can be a legitimate NHL player. In his rookie season (2017-18), he scored sixteen goals and followed that up with seasons of twenty-seven and nineteen goals.

This season was a disaster for the twenty-four-year-old left-wing, though, as he only tallied five goals and nine assists in forty-one games played. Although known for his tenacious forechecking ability when all was going well, DeBrusk seemed to have a problem with his compete level this season.

With a DeBrusk getting a reputation for “mailing it in” at times. Why would the LA Kings consider acquiring such a player? It really comes down to risk-reward vs. acquisition cost. Of course, the Kings would love to be able to trade for a young sniper such as Patrik Laine, but the cost to acquire someone like him would be astronomical – we’re talking first-round picks and high-end prospects.

Despite his baggage, in his four NHL seasons, Jake DeBrusk still has scored a combined 67 goals. He also has a team-friendly contract with one year left with a $3.675 million AAV, after which he becomes an arbitration-eligible RFA. The risk in acquiring Jake DeBrusk is minimal for the Kings. If it doesn’t work out, they can cut ties after next season.

With all of that said, how much would it cost the LA Kings to trade for DeBrusk? There were rumors that the Bruins could be interested in a DeBrusk straight up for Tyler Madden trade, given Madden’s ties to the Boston area. Unless the Bruins are going to include additional assets, this will not work for LA.

The Bruins have indicated are losing patience with DeBrusk, as evidenced by healthy scratching him in both the regular season and playoffs. To expect a high-end prospect in return for someone you have indicated you’ve lost faith in is not realistic.

It’s understandable why Boston would at least try to get someone like Madden in exchange for DeBrusk. The Bruins prospect pool is almost devoid of any “blue chip” prospects, and with several aging stars on their roster, they will need to replenish the pipeline sooner rather than later.

They lack a second-round draft pick in this year’s draft. At the same time, the LA Kings have two selections in round two, so a trade of DeBrusk for the second round pick LA holds from St. Louis would make sense for both sides – similar to what the Kings gave up last year to acquire Lias Andersson from the New York Rangers.

An alternative could be the Kings sending Jacob Moverare and a fifth-round pick to Boston for DeBrusk. Reports indicate the Kings are impressed with Moverare’s development, but with the logjam on the Kings blueline, there just may very well not be any room for him. He is currently an RFA who needs a new contract.

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Jake DeBrusk might be one of those players who just need a change of scenery. The cost to get him will not be exorbitant, and at 24 years old, he still has a lot of hockey in front of him. If the promise he showed early in his career returns, The LA Kings have an opportunity to add the goal scorer they seek for a lot less than it would normally cost.