Countdown to camp: Jake DeBrusk
Countdown to camp: Jake DeBrusk
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 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Jake DeBrusk.
While injuries and bad luck conspired against Jake DeBrusk last season in junior hockey to knock down his overall numbers, that won’t take any luster off the prospect’s shine. The first round pick instead could really surprise at NHL training camp with the Black and Gold next month. DeBrusk fought through injuries last season, and was traded midseason in juniors. Those factored in his drop from 42 goals in his draft year to 21 goals last season. But the NHL door is wide open for somebody that can play wing to step up during training camp and seize an NHL job. That goes doubly so with a player like DeBrusk that’s definitely within a group the B’s decision-makers will be watching closely. The 19-year-old may need more time to develop his game, but the Bruins won’t shy away from DeBrusk if he surprises and looks ready. He’ll need to force his way into the conversation, but that will happen naturally if he plays well enough.
What Happened Last Year
DeBrusk seemed primed for a huge junior season with Swift Current, but instead suffered a nasty injury after taking a slap shot to the groin area. The injury required surgery and understandably made DeBrusk think twice about stepping in front of shots for a while. He still finished with 21 goals and 65 points in 61 games between Swift Current and Red Deer. He was back to his normal, productive self with eight goals and 17 points in 17 games during the Memorial Cup playoffs. So it wouldn’t take a strong argument to keep DeBrusk in juniors or the AHL for the upcoming season as he looks to refine his game, and encourage him to continue building speed and explosive strength to his 6-foot, 181-pound frame. While last year’s numbers don’t scream “breakthrough season” in any way, shape or form, DeBrusk showed mental and physical toughness returning from a very serious injury. That counts for something with these young prospect-types.
Questions To Be Answered This Season
The question is whether DeBrusk has enough polish and size/strength to withstand the rigors of the NHL as a 19-year-old with a couple of junior hockey seasons under his belt. There’s little doubt he’s going to be able to make a name for himself with an NHL caliber shot and release. He also as a good hockey IQ and knows where to go in the offensive zone with or without the puck. The question is whether those clear strengths can offset the typical drawbacks from a youngster that still has plenty of development time ahead of him. DeBrusk has shown a willingness to fight to get to the front of the net after working with Bruins players over the last two years, and that’s exactly the kind of blue collar, hard-nosed worker Boston is looking for with their young players. DeBrusk will get a good shot from the Bruins in the future. The question now is just how immediate that future is going to be.
What they're saying
“He’s done very well at juniors the last couple of years, and [DeBrusk] has probably proven enough there that it’s time to step up to the next level against bigger, stronger men.” –Current Providence Bruins coach Kevin Dean
Jake DeBrusk has the talent to be a finisher on the offensive end at the highest levels of hockey, and showed the kind of shot and release from the scoring areas during development camp. The question now is whether that is meant to happen sooner or later for the Bruins. DeBrusk will get a good look in training camp along with fellow young B’s forwards Danton Heinen, Zach Senyshyn and others. But it feels like DeBrusk and Heinen will be similar level players battling for the same kind of ice time. The 14th overall pick in the 2015 draft needs to simply keep getting bigger, stronger and faster while his game matures, and let his playmaking instincts, attention to detail and wicked wrist shot carry the day once things get going at Bruins training camp. We already know that DeBrusk is a first round talent, and now he needs to show it consistently to start pushing the hand of B’s decision makers