Jake DeBrusk has played a power forward-type of hockey in his three seasons with the Boston Bruins, and he plans to inject even more toughness in his game moving forward.
The 24-year-old left winger entered the offseason as a restricted free agent, and on Monday the team announced it had signed him to a two-year contract worth $7.35 million.
DeBrusk has identified a few areas where he can take his game to a higher level, and one of them is upping the physicality level.
"That’s my main focus. There is pretty much a glaring aspect of my game that was last year. I don’t think it was necessarily there my first year," DeBrusk said Tuesday in a Zoom call with reporters. "I kind of looked at – obviously, throughout this whole process I’ve looked at pretty much every single stat you can find. I looked at some things and to be able to see that is obviously easy to change. There’s no reason why I can’t have a hit per game.
"And that goes hand in hand with what I was just talking about earlier with the forechecking. I think that that’s been a main focus of mine. I’m not saying I’m going to be running around out there, but obviously, I could finish checks more. That’s usually how I play. That’s how I’ve been known to play.
"It just didn’t really happen much this year and it’s one thing I felt like it affected my game a lot. It could open up space for me, my teammates and also just getting the puck. That’s the biggest thing. Obviously, you’re trying to get possession of it. Defenseman don’t think they’re going to get hit, they’ll take an extra second to make that play. It’s just a matter of getting on them as fast as I can, use my footspeed, use my strengths to get there and then from the rest, it’s just hockey."
In addition to playing a more physical game, one area where DeBrusk can improve is being a more consistent goal scorer.
DeBrusk has averaged 20 goals in his three NHL seasons, which is a pretty solid rate for a young forward, but he goes through too many long stretches without finding the back of the net. For example, DeBrusk tallied five goals over his last 27 games last season, including the round robin and Stanley Cup Playoffs.
If DeBrusk is able to score with better consistency and frustrate opponents with a more aggressive style of play, he'll set himself up for a nice payday as a free agent in the summer of 2022.