Bruins Canadiens Hockey(Photo Credit: AP)

By: Ian Smith | Follow me on Twitter @IanMalcolmSmith 

There was a lot of buzz heading into this season about how Jake DeBrusk was going to follow a pretty intriguing rookie performance. Last season DeBrusk played in 70 games for the Boston Bruins, scoring 16 goals and dishing out 27 assists for 43 points. Amongst rookies who played in at least 60 games last season, DeBrusk ranked eighth with 0.61 points per game. DeBrusk was originally drafted by the Bruins 14th overall in 2015 and is the son of former NHL bruiser Louie DeBrusk. Jake has a different game than his father, though, and actually scored more points in his rookie season than his dad scored in his entire 401 game career.

There were numerous reasons to be excited that DeBrusk was going to take things to the next level for the 2018-19 season. He’s a great skater who possesses some immense scoring ability. Not only does he produce on the offensive end, but he’s an effective two-way player as well. He started off a bit slow this year, but he is really starting to pick up the scoring pace and provide the Bruins more offensive balance through the lineup. Through the first 13 games of this season, DeBrusk had just three points, all of which were goals, with two of those goals coming in a game against the Detroit Red Wings on October 13. In the last 11 games, though, DeBrusk has been able to find his scoring touch more consistently, as he has seven goals and two assists. DeBrusk is the only player on the Bruins besides David Pastrnak with double-digit goals. He took a puck to the back of the head Monday against the Toronto Maple Leafs but was back on the ice during practice a couple days later.

This recent stretch is indicative that DeBrusk might be able to reach the 30-goal plateau in just his second season in the league. Since DeBrusk doesn’t have a very extensive track record in the NHL, it’s harder to know what type of level he’s poised to settle into in terms of shooting percentage or shots per game. Last season, DeBrusk averaged about 2.04 shots on goal per game and tallied a shooting percentage of 11.2%, which resulted in 16 goals in 72 games. This season, he is averaging about 2.46 shots on goal per game, and his shooting percentage has increased to 16.9%. For his career, DeBrusk is averaging about 2.15 shots on goal per game with a shooting percentage of 12.9%. 

Let’s even assume DeBrusk misses a couple games here and there the rest of this season. At 24 games so far, maybe he’ll play in about 50 or so more. If he averages his career totals in shots on goal per game and shooting percentage in those final 50 games, DeBrusk should score about 14 more goals this season, leaving him with 24 goals. That’s still a pretty conservative estimate, though, given how he has looked this season, particularly as of late. 14 more goals would be him reverting closer to his shooting totals from last season, and it already looks like he’s in the midst of improvement this season as a scorer. Using 50 remaining games as a basic template for predicting DeBrusk’s season is nice, not only because it’s a round number, but it allows some cushion for injury.

Let’s say DeBrusk needs to score 20 goals in 50 games to get to 30 goals on the season, all of which are conveniently round numbers for the sake of the hypothetical. If he continues his shooting percentage and shots on goal per game totals thus far this season for the rest of those 50 games, DeBrusk will score about 21 more goals. That would give him 31 goals in 74 games played, and those shots per game and shooting percentage totals could even dip slightly if he plays in more than 50 more games.

It’s going to be fascinating to see if DeBrusk will even out his scoring or if he’ll continue netting them in bunches with long gaps in between. However he ultimately divides his goal scoring, though, it looks like DeBrusk is well on his way to scoring more than 30 goals in just his second season in the league, assuming he doesn’t miss significant time at any point this season.