The Boston Bruins were busy adding scoring depth in NHL free agency. As a result, the Bruins have a lot of forwards and only 12 spots among the four lines.
Three of the players signed as free agents -- Nick Foligno, Tomas Nosek and Erik Haula -- are left-shooting forwards.
Where does that leave Jake DeBrusk?
“Jake, obviously, on the left side third line behind (Brad Marchand) and Taylor (Hall) would be a good fit for him to start, and see where it goes with the other guys,” B's head coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters Thursday.
A third-line position is absolutely the best place for DeBrusk entering the new season. Cassidy also made the point that DeBrusk probably wouldn't play against as many top defense pairings as he's used to in that role.
Lesser competition could be enough to help DeBrusk rediscover the form that's made him an effective goal-scoring power forward at times throughout his career.
The issue with DeBrusk isn't his talent. He has a great shot, drives hard to the net and is difficult to play against when fully engaged. This is a player who averaged 20.67 goals over his first three NHL seasons, which is impressive.
The problem is his inconsistency. He often goes long stretches without scoring goals, and during those periods he fails to make enough of an impact in other areas of the game.
DeBrusk struggled offensively most of last season, tallying just 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 41 games. His 0.12 goals per game were by far the lowest of his career. He also was a healthy scratch in the second half of the regular season.
If the Bruins try to upgrade their roster in the trade market, perhaps in search of a top-six center or top-four defenseman, DeBrusk is one of the team's best assets. He is entering the final year of his contract with a $3.675 million salary cap hit.
Going into the season with DeBrusk on the roster is the best course of the action for the Bruins, though. There's going to be a fierce competition for ice time on the wings, and DeBrusk is also playing for a new contract. These factors should provide him with plenty of motivation.
A motivated DeBrusk who's more consistent offensively would be a huge boost for a Bruins team that's lacked scoring depth in recent Stanley Cup playoff runs.