PLYMOUTH, MA — Based on what Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk said Thursday regarding his contract negotiations with the team, there hasn’t been much progress on locking the 26-year-old winger up to a contract extension.
DeBrusk met the Boston media for the first time this season on Thursday just before the Boston Bruins Foundation’s 20th annual golf tournament and was asked for an update on his contract situation.
“No, I haven’t heard anything yet,” DeBrusk replied. “It’s been kind of a couple of crazy days here because of travel and losing my bags and stuff. …they found them! It was a long day at the airport so. …”
DeBrusk, who is already on record, more than once, as saying he wants to remain with the Boston Bruins, is entering the final season of a two-year contract with a $4 million salary cap hit and can become an unrestricted free agent next July 1. The 6-foot, 188-pound winger is also coming off a career season in which he scored 27 goals and had 23 assists in 64 games. He’s already focused on having an even better season in 2023-24 and isn’t about to let contract talks derail that. DeBrusk is on his third contract with the Bruins, and those experiences are helping him now.
“I’m approaching it just getting ready for game 1,” DeBrusk said. “Getting my game ready, and I guess when it comes to contract talks, it’s one of those things where you need two sides to tango, and if it happens, it happens, but it’s one of those things where it’s obviously not my main focus, but it’s going to be a big year for our team in general, and I know that if I’m doing my part and having success with production and certain things that will help our team. So, I think it goes hand in hand, and it’s one of those things that I’m just ready to get the season started. I’m excited for it, and it’s just about staying healthy.”
Jake DeBrusk has had a roller coaster ride over the last two years as he went from requesting a trade out of Boston in November 2021 to signing a two-year contract extension at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline to a career year last season. He’s drawing from that experience and believes he’s become a better player and stronger person for it.
“I think there was a lot of things that were said about our team last summer, and just in general, for myself, there’s been ups and downs,” DeBrusk said. “So I think I’ve learned a lot about myself, and it was kind of me becoming myself in a sense, and I know I have more to give. It’s one of those things where I worked hard this offseason, and I feel ready to go, and I’m just excited to get back out there.”
Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery was asked about DeBrusk’s growth as a player on and off the ice on Thursday and credited DeBrusk for pushing forward.
“He’s going into the prime of his career, and I think he’s ready to be a go-to-player, and not a complimentary player but a player that drives the line,” Montgomery said of the 6-foot, 197-pound winger. “He and I have spoken a lot about that. Let’s say he was really good for us for 90 percent of the games; well, Bergeron, I could rely on for 100 percent of the games. So there’s ten percent that needs to be made up, and he’s gotta carry a little bit of that weight, and not only him but a lot of others. I think mentally, he wants that, and he’s ready for it.”
When appraised of his coach’s praise and observations on his game, an appreciative DeBrusk concurred.
“Yeah, exactly,” Debrusk said. “Just know where my game’s at and not necessarily being selfish, but just knowing what I can bring to the table every night. I think my speed is the biggest thing where I can cause some chaos on the forecheck when it comes to rush plays. I think that’s one of those things that I’m looking to do more of. I agree with ‘Monty’ that as the year went on, there were certain times when I was more comfortable doing more of those things. So, I can only get better at it if I keep trying, and it’s one of those things that when I’m playing well, I do it naturally.”