Boston Bruins: Jake DeBrusk has chance to prove his worth in absence of big stars

Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74). Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74). Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /

Jake DeBrusk can really prove himself to the Boston Bruins to start the 2020-21 NHL season.

We’re just a couple of weeks out from the start of the 2020-21 NHL season and the Boston Bruins will be without two of their biggest offensive stars, opening a rather wide door for Jake DeBrusk to enter as the main man.

Both Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak will miss the start of the 2020-21 season with hernia and hip and labrum injuries respectively.

Marchand is set to miss the first month of the new year while Pastrnak will be out for a little longer, leaving the Bruins without two of their biggest stars and offensive juggernauts.

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I mean, Pastrnak scored 48 goals and put up 95 points in 2019-20, sharing the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy with Washington Capitals goal machine Alex Ovechkin, while Marchand had another monster year with 87 points (28 G, 59 A) in 70 regular season games.

That is a lot of offense to lose for a month or two, especially in a truncated season that will only feature 56 games with every single contest now carrying extra importance.

Therefore, the Boston Bruins will need someone to step up and take on extra responsibility in the offensive zone, and Jake DeBrusk should be that guy.

Having signed a two-year, $7,350,000 extension with a $3,675,000 AAV earlier in the offseason, the time is now for DeBrusk to really elevate his game for the Bruins.

With his game plagued by an alarming lack of consistency in all regards, DeBrusk regressed somewhat in 2019-20 with 35 points (19 G, 16 A) in 65 regular season games, before going cold in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with just four goals in 13 games.

DeBrusk also went without a point in the first four games of the regular season before going 10 straight contests without a single point later on in the year, while he has developed a bad habit of just disappearing from games.

It is frustrating given that the 24-year-old has shown what he’s capable of, recording 40 plus points in each of his first two seasons in the NHL while he ranks fourth on the Bruins in goals (62), fourth in power play goals (17), tied for game-winning goals (14), sixth in points (120) and eighth in assists (58) since bursting onto the scene in 2017-18.

An effective net-front presence, able to crash the net and boasting blistering speed, DeBrusk has the skill set needed to be a very good top-six forward in the NHL.

If he can just work on his two-way game and develop somewhat off a killer instinct, then he would be unstoppable.

Jake DeBrusk
Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Plus, the biggest bugaboo of DeBrusk’s game is a lack of consistency and if he can discover the secret sauce to solve that fatal flaw, then he will be off to the races.

And, facing the daunting prospect of being without two of their key cogs for at least the first month of the regular season, the Boston Bruins will need DeBrusk to play to a high level on a consistent basis.

If he can do that and come out flying in 2020-21 then it is feasible to project that DeBrusk will remain on the top line with Patrice Bergeron until both Pastrnak and Marchand are back.

Their absence should also provide DeBrusk with a bigger look on the power play and maybe even on the penalty kill, and he now has a golden opportunity to really prove his worth to the Bruins and also prove that he can be a consistent offensive threat in a top-six role.

Granted, having a regular right winger on the second line in either Craig Smith or Ondrej Kase will help DeBrusk’s cause in the long run but, for the short term at least, the left shot needs to ensure he reports to Training Camp at the peak of his powers in order to prove to the coaching staff that he has what it takes to give Bergeron a reliable running mate for however long is needed.

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And, if Jake DeBrusk can put together the best qualities of his game in one neat package on a night-to-night basis and unlock his full potential, then the end result could help soften the blow of being without both David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand for the start of the 2020-21 NHL season for the Boston Bruins.