Pittsburgh Penguins’ Trade Deadline Target: Jake DeBrusk

Associated Press/Mark J. Terrill

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We’re getting down to the nitty-gritty. The Pittsburgh Penguins are sitting pretty with 83 points. They are currently in second place in the Metropolitan Division, five points back of the Hurricanes and two points clear of the New York Rangers.

This afternoon, the Penguins wrap up a three-game road stint with a visit to Arizona to face the Coyotes. They finished up a seven-game stretch against playoff teams with a 4-2-1 record, earning nine of a possible 14 points. Not too shabby.

Heck, they even got some secondary scoring over the last few games, including a goal on Thursday from Chad Ruhwedel who now has a career-high three goals. He’ll be rivaling Auston Matthews’ 45 goals in no time.

But a small stretch of secondary scoring won’t completely solve the Pens’ issues. And even if it did, it never hurts to add a little bit of scoring depth anyway.

If the Penguins do anything before Monday, it’ll likely be finding a winger for Evgeni Malkin on the second line.

Geno has been held pointless for six straight contests now. His main contributions have been on the power play since his return. While his 5-on-5 play hasn’t been pedestrian, his overall point output at even strength hasn’t been incredible. To be fair, Malkin’s linemates have consisted of guys like Danton Heinen and Evan Rodrigues. There’s nothing horribly wrong with them, neither of them screams “exciting” as a line mate for Malkin. Kasperi Kapanen was given every chance to get going with Malkin and they never clicked.

Jason Zucker has missed considerable time this season and Bryan Rust has been moved down to Geno’s line. Of course, this is no demotion for Rust. He’s been very good. The move is aimed more at getting Malkin going a bit as they’ve showed awesome chemistry in the past.

So if the Penguins make a move by Monday, let’s hope it addresses this problem.

My solution? Boston Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk.

Ron Hextall has said he doesn’t want to trade his first-round draft pick. Also, many of the hockey pundits believe Hextall would rather make a hockey deal of some sorts instead of trading for a rental.

DeBrusk does fall under the rental category.

However, he is still only 25 years old and carries a $3.68 million cap hit for the remainder of this season. With 15 goals and 25 points in 56 games, it certainly hasn’t been sunshine and rainbows for DeBrusk.

The Bruins are comfortably in a playoff spot but DeBrusk has shown a desire to get dealt from Boston after requesting a trade in late November. The Bruins, however, have continued to use him as a regular forward, mostly in a second line capacity.

DeBrusk has spent his first five seasons in Boston. He made a name for himself in 2018-19’ when he scored 27 goals. What he hasn’t done yet, however, in his career is hit the 50-point plateau. In fact, his best season was his rookie season when he had 43.

DeBrusk feels like a guy who has immense talent and hasn’t quite unlocked it yet. He’s getting a chance to play with an elite player in Brad Marchand so it’s not like the line mates would be significantly better in Pittsburgh.

At his current pace, DeBrusk should crest over the 20-goal plateau for the second time in his career assuming he stays healthy. There is something to be said for that when he’s going to play middle-six minutes on whatever team he plays for.

Of course, all of this hinges on Boston’s willingness to trade him. While DeBrusk wants out, the Bruins don’t have to oblige. They have a potential 20-goal scorer on a team-friendly deal. They can put the pedal to the metal and chase a Stanley Cup themselves with DeBrusk on the squad. The Penguins should be attempting to find out what it would take to get the young forward. He could always re-sign if he plays well through the stretch run.