Was the DeBrusk package enough?

Broncos DeBrusk 30th

Jake DeBrusk (photo from scbroncos.com)

On the same day that Team Canada was eliminated in the quarter final of the World Juniors, Jake DeBrusk showed them what they missed out by leaving him at home. The Boston Bruins draft pick put up a hat trick and added a couple assists as well in Red Deer’s 10-0 blowout win over the defending Eastern Conference champion Brandon Wheat Kings. Call it a friendly reminder of that kind of scoring touch Canada left at home when they didn’t even invite the former 42 goal scorer and NHL first round draft pick to their camp.

DeBrusk now has 10 points in 4 games with Red Deer. I can’t imagine he will continue at quite that pace, but we all knew he would be a big difference maker on the Memorial Cup hosts. Jake has been a difference maker his whole career with the Broncos and delivered some of his biggest performances in clutch situations. It was a great addition for the Rebels. So naturally now that the Rebels are paying some stiff prices for other additions the calls go out that the Broncos didn’t get enough. Was it enough? The best way to tell is to compare to other similar deals.

First of all we can get a little too caught up in volume when it comes to trade return. The number of pieces does not necessarily indicate the success of a deal. I remember when the Oilers traded Chris Pronger they were set on getting five assets in the deal and that didn’t exactly work out as planned. I could give you twenty assets but what if none of them are any more valuable than what you already have on your roster or on your list? The Cody Eakin 8 for 1 type of deal is the one most often referenced. It’s worth mentioning that at the time the Broncos didn’t have a very deep list and had room to add some extra pieces in hopes one of them would turn out. For the most part the extra guys that came over as a part of that 8 for 1 were not guys Kootenay really had plans for.

Ryan Bloom, Jarrett Zentner and Steve Myland didn’t have WHL careers. Christian Magnus was heading towards the end of his WHL days. They were shots in the dark with hope they may exceed expectations. The real keys to that deal were Colby Cave and three (1rst, 2nd and 3rd) draft picks. Essentially the deal was Eakin for potential as even at that stage Cave was quite unproven and wouldn’t break out as a star in the WHL until his 19-year-old season.

Does this deal measure up to that? The Broncos got a 1rst and 3rd round pick. They don’t get a 16-year-old former first round pick like Cave, but they do get an 18-year-old forward in Lane Pederson who has already proven he can be an impact forward in the WHL. In this case the question would be how much you value proven experience at this level versus potential. Pederson has shown to me he’s a clear top six forward who has taken his offensive game to the next level this season. He’s been to an NHL camp already, can play in any situation, can play up the middle or on the wing and he’s here for possibly another two and a half years. My instinct is that a player like that is more valuable to the Broncos at this point than a prospect who hasn’t made the league yet and whose future is uncertain. Of course if you knew for sure you were getting another Colby Cave that’s one thing, but even still you’d have to wait a couple years to see the impact of that kind of addition.

Essentially you trade three months of DeBrusk for either a year and a half or two and a half years of Pedereson playing a similar role… with the addition of the 1rst and 3rd round picks. You know Pederson can be a top six guy (17 points in his last 19 games) even if you don’t yet know if he can contribute at the level of a star like DeBrusk. He may not but he’s still going to be someone who pushes the river in a positive direction for you and one piece of the puzzle you can set in stone for at least the next little while.

If you want a 16 or 17-year-old that has a similar level of proven value you’re not getting the 1rst and 3rd round pick in addition. Look at the Morgan Klimchuk deal last season as an example. Klimchuk would probably have similar value to DeBrusk I would suggest. Regina got that impact 17-year-old in Jesse Gabrielle… and nothing else. So even if you can convince a team to move a 16 or 17-year-old impact player and convince that player to agree to a trade (both difficult) you likely wouldn’t get much beyond that one player.

How does the DeBrusk deal compare to other similar deals from last season? Third overall NHL draft pick Leon Draisaitl fetched a 1rst, two 4th round picks, Kris Schmidli and Dalton Yorke. So both deals got 1rst round picks, to me a 3rd and two 4ths are similar value… and then the players. Schmidli had to be included in the deal because it was an import swap, but he was a real talent who they only got to keep for half a season. Yorke is a very solid veteran defenceman who has helped stabilize the Raiders blue line. They got a couple extra pieces overall but is the value really completely out of line with the DeBrusk deal? Especially given Draisaitl coming back from the NHL would certainly have more value.

The other Kelowna deal with Prince Albert last year saw Josh Morrissey and Gage Quinney go to the Rockets for Austin Glover, Jesse Lees, a 2nd and a 3rd. Quinney wound up being a point per game player for the Rockets so he was hardly just a throw in. Morrissey was among the best defencemen in the country. The Raiders get a 2nd instead of a 1rst and add a 3rd as well. They get two players who are impact guys on a good team this season. Glover was an 18-year-old forward at the time who compares well to Pederson as someone they could pencil in to their top six moving forward. Lees has been very valuable but was a pending overage player the next season so just based on that didn’t have quite as much value. Given the value of Quinney and the lack of a 1rst rounder in the deal I would say I like the return the Broncos got for DeBrusk more than the return PA got for Morrissey.

In another deadline deal last season Regina sent 19-year-olds Kyle Burroughs and Dryden Hunt to Medicine Hat for Connor Hobbs, a 2nd and a 3rd round pick. Again in this case there are two valuable players going instead of just one. Hobbs was 17 so in that sense has more years to offer perhaps than Pederson, but was somewhat unproven at the time. He has shown he can be a top four defenceman in the WHL at 18 and has been a very solid addition for Regina. They don’t get a first round pick in the deal and Medicine Hat was able to recoup their 2nd and 3rd round picks by trading Hunt away in the summer anyway. Again I’d say the Broncos got more value for their asset in comparison to this deal.

Saskatoon did get a first round pick and a prospect for Alex Forsberg, but they had to trade a 3rd and a 4th in return to get it. It also doesn’t appear that Brayden Dunn is going to be an impact player. Obviously Forsberg didn’t have the same value as DeBrusk, but he was also likely to return as an overage while DeBrusk isn’t.

There was a somewhat similar deal earlier in the season where Everett dealt a 1rst, a 2nd and goaltender Nik Amundrud to Saskatoon for Nikita Scherbak. That’s similar value to DeBrusk for another 1rst round NHL draft pick with similar numbers. I’d take Pederson and a 3rd over Amundrud and a 2nd… but it’s close and Everett got Scherback all year instead of at the deadline.

I’ve also heard some comparisons to the two other deals Red Deer made recently to acquire overage forwards Adam Helweka and Luke Philp. Neither of those deals saw first round picks involved. Philp did net Kootenay a larger number of assets… but does that make it a better trade? They get Kopeck because Red Deer can’t make that trade without sending an overage player back. He has little value to Kootenay in their situation unless they can deal him. They get Pouliot who seems to be a promising young defenceman but was an 11th round pick and is unproven at this level so far. Tanner Sidaway is a list player in Junior B right now and the book is out on him. Jeff Chynoweth has a great track record finding talent so I wouldn’t be against him for a second, but we aren’t talking about highly touted guys. They also get 2nd and 3rd round picks. It’s a very good deal for an overage forward. I think Kootenay got good value for Philp no question. I don’t think it’s at all a better return than a 1rst, a 3rd and Pederson. Nor should it be given he is an overage guy.

Helewka netted Spokane Wyatt Johnson (an overage they had to get in the deal) along with prospect Eli Zummack, a 2nd round pick and a 5th. In Spokane’s case Johnson can still help them because they are still very much a playoff team, but again the Rebels had to give up a 20 to take a 20. Zummack was a 2nd round pick who seems to be having a solid BC Major Midget season but he’s still an unknown product. They also get a 2nd and a 5th. Again I think it’s a very strong return for an overage forward and a win for Spokane given their situation. I don’t see that deal and think the Broncos didn’t get a good enough return in their trade. Would you rather have Zummack, a 2nd and a 5th than Pederson a 1rst and a 3rd?

Both overage deals are very different scenarios of course because of the nature of overage deals. It’s hard to compare them to the DeBrusk deal. I just don’t see anything out of either of them that should indicate somehow there wasn’t enough value in the DeBrusk deal.

Brycen Martin went to Everett this year. He was a point per game defenceman with the Blades and netted them a 2nd, a former 1rst round pick defenceman Janzten Leslie who for whatever reason didn’t make the Silvertips this season and a former 5th round pick Ryan Anderson who is having a nice season as a 16-year-old in Midget. I think that’s a good return for Martin who I don’t think carries as much value as DeBrusk. There is no proven player in there but it’s a good package for Saskatoon.

If Edmonton goes and deals Pollock on his own for a package that has a similar return to the DeBursk deal and more perhaps I could see that argument. These other deals don’t give me any pause at all.

So based on the Klimchuk, Draisaitl, Morrisseey, Burroughs/Hunt and Forsberg deals (even the Eakin deal to some degree in a different time) it seems to me the DeBrusk trade was full value. I think it’s a fair and reasonable deal for both teams involved who had different goals in mind. Fans always want to think their side robbed the other side. You always want more. The reality is it suits the needs of both parties and seems to compare in a reasonable way to most other similar deals within the last year or so.

What do you think? Now we will see if there are any other deals before Sunday. It could be a wild week around the league.

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About shawnmullin

Play by Play Broadcaster for the WHL's Swift Current Broncos on 94.1 FM The Eagle.
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