Next off-season, the Boston Bruins will have far more money to spend within the salary cap as several players’ contracts expire, and the league potentially raises the cap hit for all clubs. The Bruins will have a few decisions to make on players, such as defensemen Matt Grzelcyk, Jakub Zboril, and Derek Forbort. Goaltender Jeremy Swayman will need a new deal as well. Recently, Jake DeBrusk has stated that the Edmonton native would like to stay in Boston as this is where he “grew up.” This is in stark contrast to two years ago when the winger requested a trade. Now, it seems to be up to the team whether the upcoming unrestricted free agent remains in the Bruins’ black and gold.
Last week, when DeBrusk was asked about negotiations with the club, the three-time 25-goal scorer said, “It takes two to tango”, inferring that the Bruins had not approached DeBrusk on a potential new contract. The forward is entering the last year of a two-year, $8 million deal and would seem to command a raise after the 2023-24 season. The team will need to decide what value they would like to put on DeBrusk. With Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci now retired and Taylor Hall and Tyler Bertuzzi in different cities, DeBrusk should have some leverage heading into contract talks.
Sweeney told the media Tuesday that the team wants to begin discussing a deal with DeBrusk and wants to know, and soon, whether DeBrusk is willing to stay. But didn’t DeBrusk tell the media that he was open to staying? Does Sweeney’s question mean that the team will be asking DeBrusk to take a team-friendly deal? The Bruins will have plenty of money at first this off-season, but with Swayman and DeBrusk looking for long-term, lucrative deals, the money will disappear quickly.
DeBrusk has scored 119 goals in 385 regular season games for Boston. The soon-to-be 27-year-old has 52 of those goals in his last two seasons and is certainly trending upward. Players with similar resumes have $6 million per year contracts now. But what value do the Bruins put on DeBrusk, a player who wanted out of Boston two years ago? Is there trust in DeBrusk to sign a big contract and then be “all-in” after he gets his money?
The Bruins are probably waiting to see what type of start to the season DeBrusk will have without Bergeron or a top center. If DeBrusk continues to score early, look for the Bruins to extend him. If not, things could get interesting. Jake DeBrusk says he wants to stay in Boston, but how much is that the case? And will the Bruins show him the same desire for him to be a Bruin beyond this season? Don Sweeney stated Tuesday that the Bruins want Jake DeBrusk, and contract talks will begin during training camp. We’ll see who wants who more.