From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2018-19 Bruins. Today: Jake DeBrusk.
The 21-year-old DeBrusk won a top-6 job in training camp with the Bruins, and never looked back in a solid rookie campaign that included a clutch goal scored in Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. DeBrusk played with smarts, toughness and plenty of skill while skating on David Krejci’s left side for the duration of the entire season, and brought a positive, determined personality to the B’s dressing room as well. Other teams took notice and began to ask about DeBrusk in trade discussions over the course of the season, but the left winger showed he’s got all the goods to be a Bruin for a long time.
What Happened Last Year: DeBrusk was excellent from the start of training camp to all throughout the regular season, endured some injuries and had some really big moments while posting 16 goals and 43 points in 70 games for the Black and Gold. DeBrusk picked some big spots for his best games whether it was a huge effort against the Islanders when everybody was talking about the one that got away in Mat Barzal, or his goal in Game 7 against the Leafs that propelled the B’s to victory. Through it all DeBrusk showed great hockey instincts, toughness, goal-scoring skill and the ability to effectively play a top-6 forward role on a playoff-caliber team. Certainly the production can go higher for DeBrusk, but his first run through the NHL all-in-all was a pretty successful one.
Questions To Be Answered This Season: The biggest future steps for DeBrusk involve getting bigger, faster and stronger to play his power forward-type game, and up the goal-scoring and points if he’s going to stay in a top-6 spot. For a rookie season, DeBrusk was pretty impressive and showed he’s got a real penchant for rising to the occasion in the big games. Now the 21-year-old simply needs to show the ability to play that way a little more often and consistently, and become more of a force on that second line that other teams have to account for. As far as intangibles, work ethic and approach go, DeBrusk is a player that shows all of the positive attributes that come along with being the son of a former NHL player, and he simply does things the right way all across the board. If DeBrusk can pump things up and consistently get to a 20-goal production level then he’ll be in very good shape moving forward.
In Their Words: “You’re playing against the best players in the world every single night, and they’re bringing their best, so, especially second half of the year, I find, everyone, kind of, is fighting for playoff spots and ramps it up, so just taking whatever I can from whatever level I was playing to try and incorporate it, but at the same time, I think the biggest thing is to stay consistent with your game, whether you’re getting points or how you’re playing. I think that’s just kind of one of the things that I’m trying to ingrain in myself early and start to find some results.” –Jake DeBrusk, on his mindset as an NHL rookie and what he learned that he can apply moving forward.
Overall Outlook: DeBrusk was arguably the best forward outside of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak in the first round playoff series against the Maple Leafs, and made himself a major factor in that seven game series. DeBrusk showed how he can be in the big moments and what he’s made of at the highest level, and now it’s just a matter of harnessing some of that “big game” approach into the everyday while ramping up the offense just a little bit. DeBrusk also got banged up more than a few times over the course of the season, particularly in the second half, and needs to add a little more size and strength to his frame in order to withstand some of the NHL physicality. But the bottom line with the 21-year-old is that he’s highly valued and sought after by other teams in trade and that speaks to just how bright his future after a strong opening season with the Black and Gold.