Boston Bruins veteran center David Krejci still believes in Jake DeBrusk who’s been a regular on Krejci’s left wing since entering the NHL in 2017-18 as a highly touted 2015 first-rounder. While DeBrusk has self-admittedly been wildly inconsistent throughout his three-year entry-level contract that expires on October 9. Still, Krejci sees a 23-year-old that while still learning has already shown that potential and done so when the Boston Bruins needed it most.
“I think his upside is tremendous,” David Krejci said of Jake DeBrusk in his end of the season Zoom media call. “I think he can take games over. He had that one amazing game against Carolina, he scored two goals I think in the third period. Once he gets going, he’s pretty gifted. He’s got great speed and he can finish on breakaways, which not many people have that.”
That game against the Carolina Hurricanes was Game 4 of the 2020 Eastern Conference quarterfinals that the Bruins won in five games. In Game 4, with his team trailing 2-0 in the third period, DeBrusk went into beast mode scoring two goals during a four-goal period for the Bruins en route to a 4-3 win.
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This wasn’t the first time Jake DeBrusk has stepped up in the postseason. Going back to his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2018, the 14th pick overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft has shown the ability to, as Krejci put it “take games over” in the clutch. David Krejci knows DeBrusk has the skill and desire to play at such a high level but still hasn’t found a way to do it on a consistent basis.
“He just has to find a way to be more consistent,” Krejci said of the young DeBrusk. “Obviously, it’s not just him, it’s his linemates and his teammates. But I think that’s the biggest thing for him, he just has to find a way to be more consistent. If he does that, he’s going to be a pretty dangerous player in this league every night.”
DeBrusk had 16 goals and 43 points in his rookie season and then followed that up with a 27-goal campaign and 42 points last season. This past regular season, DeBrusk fell one goal shy of reaching the 20-goal plateau again, lighting the lamp 19 times in 70 games and finishing with 35 points.
As for the postseason, DeBrusk has had a flair for the dramatic but has also been streaky the wrong way too. In his rookie playoff season, DeBrusk had six goals and eight points in 12 games. Then, during the Bruins’ run to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, DeBrusk lit the lamp only four times and finished with eleven points in 24 games. In this most recent playoff run, DeBrusk had four goals in 13 games for the Boston Bruins.
Jake DeBrusk knows he needs to find those bursts of goal-scoring dominance more often if he’s to stick with the Bruins and become the player they envisioned him to when they drafted him in 2015. He’s a restricted free agent come October 9 and yet he minced no words when assessing his career thus far.
“I feel confident in my play, I guess I feel confident in how I can help this team, I know what kind of player I can be,” DeBrusk said. “And this year I don’t think it could be replicated to be honest with you. I mean for how the common perception is, you know I’m still one goal away from 20 goals and that’s one thing I looked at you know once the first pause happened. I felt like I was completely different than what I guess that said. It’s not easy to do in this league but I definitely have a lot better and I haven’t even really tuned into that yet, which is frustrating, but I think that these learning experiences from my struggles have really helped me or will help me as a pro when I continue on here.”
One way Jake DeBrusk knows he can improve his game is to take a chapter from his mentor’s game and start to think the game more like David Krejci does.
“He thinks the game a different way and it’s shown by the way that he plays, but that’s one of the things that is most noticeable with him,” DeBrusk said of Krejci. “It’s lots of chitchats I guess on the bench as well, just certain sets and things, just different ways to attack. I think he thinks a little bit differently in that sense where it kind of help open up space for me and for our line and for himself. So anytime that you have a player that’s been to the finals and won a Cup and been a big reason for that and just his pedigree, anytime you can kind of pick his brain about literally anything I think is always something that I like to do.”