What’s subsequent for Jake DeBrusk after a breakout season? Changing into a ‘go-to’ participant on Bruins’ prime line


“He’s going into the prime of his profession.”

Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in the 2023 Discover NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park on January 02, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Jake DeBrusk was on tempo for 35 objectives earlier than his damage final January. Gregory Shamus/Getty Photographs

Jake DeBrusk is coming off of one of the best season of his profession.

The fleet-footed winger has all the time been a productive participant throughout his six years in Boston, tallying 119 objectives and 226 factors over 385 video games in a black-and-gold sweater.

However the 2022-23 marketing campaign noticed DeBrusk evolve from a top-six passenger into an impression participant in his personal proper.

Had he not missed six weeks because of a damaged fibula in the course of the 2023 Winter Traditional, DeBrusk was on tempo for 35 objectives. Over his final 82 regular-season video games (together with the 2021-22), DeBrusk has potted 37 objectives and 66 factors.

Nonetheless simply 26 years outdated, DeBrusk has established himself as a key cog for an evolving Bruins roster.

However given the expertise drain that sapped Boston’s ahead corps over the summer time, the Bruins want the affable ahead to be greater than only a goal-scoring spark plug in 2023-24.

“He’s going into the prime of his profession,” Jim Montgomery stated of DeBrusk on Thursday afternoon. “I feel he’s able to be a go-to participant and never a complementary participant, however a participant that drives the road.

“Him and I’ve spoken loads about that. … He was actually good for us for 90 % of the video games. With [Patrice] Bergeron, I might depend on one hundred pc of the video games. There’s 10 % that must be made up and he’s received to hold just a little little bit of that weight. Not solely him however a whole lot of others, however I feel mentally he desires that and he’s prepared for it.”

The bread and butter of DeBrusk’s recreation lies in his straight-line velocity and poised hand-eye capabilities. Already gifted with a knack for driving to the web, DeBrusk doles out most of his injury towards defenses by the use of Grade-A wrist pictures, deflections and rebound tallies.

However DeBrusk’s 0-to-60 acceleration can do greater than put opposing blueliners on their heels throughout rush probabilities.

Stapled subsequent to Bergeron and Brad Marchand final season, DeBrusk helped carve out fruitful O-zone shifts for his linemates by profitable foot races to free pucks and wreaking havoc on the forecheck.

That velocity translated into shorthanded conditions, the place DeBrusk averaged 1:22 of ice time per recreation on the penalty kill.

Montgomery’s musings haven’t been misplaced on DeBrusk, who believes the important thing to consistency lies in using his velocity in all conditions.

“I feel it’s not essentially being egocentric, however simply specializing in what I can convey to the desk each night time and I feel that with my velocity, that’s the most important factor — the place I may cause some chaos on the forecheck or simply on the whole in terms of rush performs,” DeBrusk stated. “I feel it’s a type of issues that’s one factor I’m seeking to do extra of.

“I agree with Monty. Because the yr went on, I felt that there have been sure occasions the place I used to be extra assured or comfy in doing these issues and the one manner you may get higher as when you preserve attempting. You’re gonna fail generally, however it’s a type of issues that once I’m taking part in properly, it’s what I simply do naturally.”

With out Bergeron and David Krejci in place, Montgomery and the Bruins might want to thrust each Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha into featured roles as Boston’s new top-six facilities.

Montgomery and the Bruins have often expressed confidence in each pivots as they start the unenviable process of changing two titans inside the group. 

However for as a lot as Boston believes each Coyle and Zacha can thrive beneath added reps, the Bruins might want to rely closely on their top-six wings to assist drive play and ease each facilities into their new environment.

Sticking Zacha subsequent to a 60-goal scorer in David Pastrnak stands as a sound avenue to unlock extra offense out of the promising centerman.

However as Coyle seems to interchange Bergeron on the highest line, having an engaged and disruptive DeBrusk skating on the wing might make life a lot simpler for the Weymouth native.

DeBrusk developed into an efficient two-way participant final season with the Bruins, with most of his good points made on the defensive facet of the puck. (Courtesy of JFreshHockey)

And with DeBrusk additionally seeking to land a hefty new contract, any added manufacturing as a “go-to” participant ought to profit all events in the course of the 2023-24 season. 

“With regards to contract talks, it’s a type of issues the place you want two sides to tango, and at any time when that occurs, that occurs,” DeBrusk stated of his pending free company subsequent summer time. “But it surely’s a type of issues the place it’s not essentially my primary focus. 

“Clearly it’s a giant yr for our group on the whole and I do know that if I’m doing my half and having success with manufacturing and sure issues, that can assist our group. I feel it goes hand in hand and it’s a type of issues that I’m simply able to get the season began. I’m excited for it.”