(Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @nathandrsn

It’s been a long and winding road for Jake DeBrusk as a Bruin up to this point in his career. He was part of the infamous 2015 draft class and was certainly the most successful of that bunch. After an 81-point season in 2014-2015 for the Swift Current Broncos in the WHL, DeBrusk was selected 14th overall in that summer’s draft. He spent a few more seasons in the WHL before playing one season for the Providence Bruins in the AHL.

He made the jump to the NHL in 2017, scoring a respectable 16 goals and 43 points for the Bruins in his rookie season. His breakthrough came in the playoffs that season when he scored the game-winning goal in game seven of the first round against the Maple Leafs. It was also his second goal of the game and put him on Bruins fans’ radars as a promising player for the future.

He followed up his 2018 playoff breakout performance with a strong season in 2018-2019. His 27 goals were an excellent sign that he was on track to becoming a prolific scorer for the Bruins. Unfortunately, he also followed up the next season with 19 goals, which is not what we, as fans, were hoping for, but it certainly wasn’t horrible.

Things took a turn for the worse the next season during the shortened COVID season. DeBrusk struggled during that season, taking a drastic step backward in production. He managed only five goals and 14 points that season, and Bruins fans voiced their displeasure all season. DeBrusk turned into one of the scapegoats among the fanbase and went into the 2021-2022 season with a lot to prove.

Unfortunately for DeBrusk, the 2021-2022 season didn’t start very well either. He scored just five goals in the 2021 half of the season and made a trade request which only frustrated Bruins fans even more. All signs were pointing toward DeBrusk leaving the Bruins, but the one thing that could have gotten in the way of his trade ended up becoming a reality; DeBrusk started playing well again.

After being moved up to the first line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, DeBrusk caught fire in the second half of the season. From February 19 to the end of the season, he scored 18 goals, bringing his season total to 25. Suddenly, Bruins fans loved him again, DeBrusk was enjoying playing hockey again, and the Bruins were playing well.

Hopes were high going into this season. We were cautiously optimistic that the DeBrusk we saw at the end of last season wasn’t just a fluke and would come to play again. So far this season, he’s delivered on those hopes. DeBrusk has been a key contributor this year for this record-setting team. Whether it’s been at even strength, on the power play, or even in the shootout, DeBrusk has been one of the Bruins’ most reliable forwards.

He’ll need to continue being a scoring threat going forward if the Bruins have hopes of making a deep playoff run. Suppose he is playing well on the top line for the Bruins; that allows Jim Montgomery to layer the rest of the lineup with depth, making them a much more dangerous team. If DeBrusk can continue his strong play into the playoffs, the Bruins will have three lines capable of scoring and a solid defensive core in front of Linus Ullmark, who right now is the league’s best goaltender.

While it certainly hasn’t been easy or the most direct route, I’m very happy with Jake DeBrusk’s career so far and where it looks like he’s heading. Sure, it would have been nice if he hadn’t had a really bad season and asked to be traded away, but if we look at his overall stats, he’s had two seasons with over 20 goals, two more with over 15, and it seems like he’s on his way again this season. He’s found a place on this roster, and it looks like his career with the Bruins is heading in the right direction.