By: Lauren Spencer | Follow Me on Twitter: @laurenspenc
Next season, the Boston Bruins are going to be a much different team than they were in 2022-23. Essential pieces of the team have retired or moved on, and the players still here will have big shoes to fill. One of those players is Jake DeBrusk. Entering his seventh year with the team, DeBrusk has shown that he is a player that benefits the team when he steps on the ice. He’ll have an extra incentive this season as he aims to prove his worth in the last year of his contract.
After being selected 14th overall in the first round of the now-infamous 2015 NHL Entry Draft, DeBrusk has been a solid piece of the Bruins’ offense. Since his major league debut in 2017, DeBrusk has scored 119 goals and 226 points in 385 games played. Last season, he tied his career-best with 27 goals. Without suffering a fractured fibula during the Winter Classic, he would have likely eclipsed the 30-goal mark with ease.
DeBrusk has been rejuvenated under new head coach Jim Montgomery, scoring eight more points in 2022-23 than in 2021-22, despite playing thirteen fewer games. It was not a secret that DeBrusk clashed with former Head Coach Bruce Cassidy, even reaching the point where he requested a trade. With the dismissal of Cassidy, the trade request was rescinded, and DeBrusk opened a new page with the Bruins that has been successful for both sides.
Next season, DeBrusk will look to have a breakthrough and potentially score over 30 goals for the first time in his career. Unfortunately, he is losing his line-mate Patrice Bergeron, who announced his retirement earlier this summer. Bergeron has the gift of making every player around him better, so DeBrusk will have to adjust next season without him. With David Krejci also retiring, Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha both have the potential to be the player who steps into the vacant 1C role. Developing the same chemistry with his new center will be important as DeBrusk enters a contract year and looks for an extension with a higher AAV.
Currently, DeBrusk has an annual cap hit of $4,000,000. Based on how comparable players have been paid, DeBrusk has likely earned himself a raise. One player to compare DeBrusk to is Troy Terry of the Anaheim Ducks. Terry recently signed a seven-year deal worth $7,000,000 per year. At 25, he is slightly younger than the 26-year-old DeBrusk and has played approximately 110 fewer games. Terry has scored 176 points with 75 goals, below DeBrusk’s career output. Terry is also a key piece of Anaheim’s core, and the team needed an agreement in order to secure a significant part of the team’s future. Boston has more critical components in place than Anaheim, but Jake DeBrusk is a player that is still a considerable asset.
Another player to compare DeBrusk with is Tyler Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi signed with the Maple Leafs for one year, $5.5 million. He is 28 years old, with 92 career goals in 326 games. DeBrusk has better career stats than Bertuzzi and will be looking for an extension for a longer term. Based on the numbers, DeBrusk will likely earn a contract worth more than $5.5 million AAV but less than Terry’s $7,000,000. Somewhere in the middle seems like the best option for all parties. The Bruins will have some holes to fill in the line-up next season, and re-signing DeBrusk should be one of Don Sweeney’s priorities.
Based on this trend, the Bruins are lucky that their cap space is wide open next season. They will have approximately $30.9 million to spend, potentially more if the cap rises significantly as predicted. However, hopefully, DeBrusk will sign an extension during the season instead of becoming an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. He’s a strong player that other teams would surely be interested in if he were to explore free agency.