DeBrusk not getting caught up in Barzal draft comparisons


BRIGHTON, Mass – Jake DeBrusk knows that he will probably be forever linked with other players in his extremely talented 2015 draft class.

DeBrusk has done well with five goals and 12 points in 22 games and is on pace for a solid 18 goals and 43 points in his first season with the Black and Gold. The 21-year-old winger has also returned to the lineup from an upper-body injury just in time to suit up Saturday night against the New York Islanders and with that, further a continuing storyline from a draft that was almost three years ago.


DeBrusk was the second of three consecutive Bruins picks in the first round that included defenseman Jakub Zboril and Zach Senyshyn and was part of a B's draft class that includes Brandon Carlo, Jeremy Lauzon and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson as well.

But the Isles will also be bringing an electric, skilled young center named Mathew Barzal with them to the Garden tonight. That player was passed over three times by the Bruins before going to the Isles with the 16th pick. Barzal leads all NHL rookies with 27 points (eight goals, 19 assists) in 28 games and has been part of a team ranked second overall in the NHL in offense this season.

It would be natural for Bruins fans to be a little vexed thinking what might have been if Barzal was their third-line center between Danton Heinen and David Backes, particularly with both Zboril and Senyshyn still finding their games in the minor leagues. Or it might be easy for DeBrusk to compare himself to a player taken immediately after him who has taken the NHL world by storm, but he says it won’t be something he’ll get caught up in.

“Hopefully it’s long careers for everybody, and some start faster than others," DeBrusk said. "We’re two different players and there are a lot of different players in that draft class that have different qualities and abilities. It will be competitive, but it’s not necessarily going to be a ‘Me vs. [Barzal] situation.’ It’s the Bruins vs. Islanders, so I’ll just take it shift by shift and see if I match up against him. I’m just looking for a good performance after coming back [in the last game].”

But DeBrusk isn’t overly concerned with comparing his game to Barzal, or frankly to another of the other extremely talented players (Kyle Connor, Brock Boeser, Colin White, Travis Konecny, Thomas Chabot etc.) that were taken after Boston’s three consecutive picks.

“I’ve already played against a couple [of kids in his draft class] this year with Connor [McDavid] at the top, and [Jack] Eichel and Timo Meier, and now it’s Mat [Barzal]. We played against each other in Seattle a little bit in junior," DeBrusk said. "He’s a very good player, fast and skilled. I’m just trying to find my game and do my thing out there. Obviously. everything likes to make a deal about certain things, but I’m not sure it’s as big of a deal as some might make it.

“He’s had a good start and I think I’ve come along well, and other players in that draft class are finding their way as well. You go to previous years and previous situations, and there are always things that could or should have been done, or however you want to say it. I think [the Bruins] are happy with what’s going on, and we’re looking to shut [the Islanders] down and get two points.”

It’s clearly not productive or useful for DeBrusk to try to live up to any comparisons of players taken after him in the draft, but don’t blame Bruins fans if they do a little bit of that when the B’s and the Isles take the ice on Saturday night.


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