Jake DeBrusk is coming off of the very best season of his profession.
The fleet-footed winger has at all times 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 as a result 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 previous, 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 rather a lot about that. … He was actually good for us for 90 % of the video games. With [Patrice] Bergeron, I may depend on one hundred pc of the video games. There’s 10 % that must be made up and he’s acquired to hold a bit little bit of that weight. Not solely him however lots of others, however I feel mentally he desires that and he’s prepared for it.”
The bread and butter of DeBrusk’s sport 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 harm towards defenses by means 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 sport 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 largest factor — the place I may cause some chaos on the forecheck or simply normally in the case of rush performs,” DeBrusk stated. “I feel it’s a kind of issues that’s one factor I’m seeking to do extra of.
“I agree with Monty. Because the 12 months went on, I felt that there have been sure occasions the place I used to be extra assured or snug in doing these issues and the one approach you will get higher as for those who hold attempting. You’re gonna fail typically, however it’s a kind of issues that after I’m enjoying effectively, 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 commonly expressed confidence in each pivots as they start the unenviable activity of changing two titans throughout the group.
However for as a lot as Boston believes each Coyle and Zacha can thrive below 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 be to exchange Bergeron on the highest line, having an engaged and disruptive DeBrusk skating on the wing may make life a lot simpler for the Weymouth native.
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.
“On the subject of contract talks, it’s a kind of issues the place you want two sides to tango, and every time that occurs, that occurs,” DeBrusk stated of his pending free company subsequent summer time. “But it surely’s a kind of issues the place it’s not essentially my fundamental focus.
“Clearly it’s an enormous 12 months for our staff normally and I do know that if I’m doing my half and having success with manufacturing and sure issues, that may assist our staff. I feel it goes hand in hand and it’s a kind of issues that I’m simply able to get the season began. I’m excited for it.”
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