Boston Bruins: Jake DeBrusk is the right player at the right price

The Boston Bruins shored up their top-six for the next two seasons.

After some mild speculation and whispers of external interest, Jake DeBrusk has officially agreed to a two-year, $7.35 million deal with the Boston Bruins– officially ending his restricted free agency.

The pride of Edmonton, Alberta – not to mention his father, NHL journeyman Louie DeBrusk – DeBrusk initially made his way to Boston as the 14th overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, sandwiched between fellow Bruins draftees Jakub Zboril and Zachary Senyshyn.

Through his first three seasons in Boston, DeBrusk appeared in 203 regular-season games and averaged roughly 20 points and 19 assists for give or take 40 points as the team’s *second-line left wing*.

That part is important, ‘second-line left wing’. While some may suggest that DeBrusk is a tad overpaid or shouldn’t have been extended at all for whatever reason they may present, this isn’t some massive, Alex Ovechkin-esque extension that’ll keep the winger with the team for the next decade-plus.

If anything, this is the exact sort of deal that both parties should be overjoyed to agree to.

As things presently stand, DeBrusk is now the 45th highest paid left-wing in the NHL in terms of average annual value. From the most basic, macro, non-analytics-based analytics standpoint, even when the league expands to 32 teams in 2021, that means DeBrusk is being paid like an above-average second-line left wing, which, again, he is.

What? Pay a second-line left wing like a second-line left wing? My goodness, what a winning strategy.

In 2019-20, DeBrusk finished fourth on the Bruins in goals, 10th in assists and seventh in points. Though his +/- has declined steadily with each passing season – as have his hits, which went from 70 as a rookie to 35 in 2019-20 – DeBrusk’s shots on goal has steadily increased and could rise even higher in 2021 if he gets a few more looks on the team’s premier power play unit.

Who knows, maybe a few seasons down the line, DeBrusk could seamlessly slot in as a top-line left wing shooter in place of Boston lifer Brad Marchand; that is, if Marchand ever slows down from the blistering 90 points per season clip he’s been going on since 2016-17.

At 24-years-old, DeBrusk still has plenty of room to grow. Now, he’ll be able to do so as a member of the Bruins indefinitely.

Barring a trade, the Boston Bruins just bought themselves two more years to see if Jake DeBrusk fits into their plans long-term. If he continues to play like a second-line left wing with a knack for scoring the puck, he may join Brad Marchand as the rare homegrown forward to play a decade-plus with the team that drafted him. If not, and some other team is willing to pay more for his services under the guise that he could take his game up a notch in a bigger role, then so be it. Or hey, the Bruins could ultimately trade DeBrusk for a better-fitting piece a few months down the line. Either way, Boston is better off with DeBrusk under contract than not.