20 Under 25 Candidates: Jake DeBrusk turning into a big-game player


It’s more than three years after the NHL Draft when the Bruins famously made three consecutive picks in the middle of the first round. Three-plus years later, it’s 22-year-old winger Jake DeBrusk as the only one of the three picks who has established himself at the NHL level and played his way into the long-term future for the Bruins.

That certainly says something about DeBrusk just as it says something about the other two players -- Jakub Zboril and Zach Senyshyn -- taken in that first round.  

DeBrusk finished with a strong, steady 16 goals and 43 points in 70 games for the Bruins while manning the left wing beside David Krejci as a rookie, and stepped up even more in the playoffs as a go-to goal scorer in the Toronto series behind the big three of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. DeBrusk is an interesting mix as a player: none of his skills really jump out at you, but he’s strong, fast and smart with a good, accurate shot, and that package comes along with very clearly being a big game player.

At the beginning of December, DeBrusk actually ranked second on the Bruins in goals behind only Pastrnak and ahead of the injured Bergeron and the snake-bitten Marchand. He continues to show the requisite offensive skill along with the willingness to go to the danger areas that could make him a perennial 20-goal scorer, and both his ideal makeup and strong character as a person make him somebody the Bruins will want as a part of their long-term picture.

Will DeBrusk ever be an All-Star at the NHL level or even reach the 30-goal plateau that separates the good players from the potentially great ones?

It might never be the case, as DeBrusk feels like a player capable of something in the 20-goal/50-point range when he reaches his maximum potential, but that’s plenty good enough for the Black and Gold after selecting him in the middle of the first round three years ago. DeBrusk is in the NHL and playing well just like so many other talented players taken in the first round of that loaded 2015 NHL Draft, and he’ll be in Boston for years to come as a gritty, productive top-6 winger. 

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