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Murphy: Potential UFA DeBrusk Left It All On The Ice

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The best player in the potential eight-player group of Boston Bruins that could become unrestricted free agents left it all on the ice in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

There’s a solid chance that Jake DeBrusk could be going to market when the 2024 NHL Free Agent Frenzy commences on July 1. The 14th pick overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft did not have a season that a player hitting the UFA market for the first time would want. DeBrusk scored just 19 goals to go with 21 assists in 80 games. That was a noticeable dip for a player, who if not injury, would’ve easily eclipsed the 30-goal plateau for the first time in the previous season. Instead, DeBrusk only played 64 games in the 2022-23 regular season but still scored 27 goals and had 23 assists.

As he was then, DeBrusk revealed after his team’s series-ending 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers in Game 6 that from just before his team’s bye week of January 28-February 5, he broke his left hand in a game.

“I mean, it was a rough regular season. I was dealing with some injuries. I broke my hand probably right before the bye week, so I missed a game,” DeBrusk said in his postgame scrum on Saturday night. “Actually, it didn’t really heal, probably until about a week out of the playoffs. So, I knew my playoffs were going to be better. I could shoot the puck. It was my bottom hand.

So, the medical staff did a great job of making sure I was ready to play and all that stuff. There were some things that were going on this year, which makes it frustrating not being able to do that and just feeling limited, to be honest with you. I tried to play through it. I thought that I could help the team out in different ways, whether it was penalty killing or stuff like that, but I knew I was going to have a good playoffs.”

DeBrusk was then asked directly about his future with the Boston Bruins.

“I’ve been busy. I’ve been playing,” DeBrusk pointed out. “So I mean, we just ended. So yeah, that’s something that hasn’t even crossed my mind, to be honest. I’m just disappointed right now.”

Chances are it’s pretty good that the thoughts that this could be it with the team he has grown up with and came within one game of winning a Stanley Cup with crossed his mind on Saturday, and will more and more in the coming weeks. Those thoughts could be put to an abrupt halt if the Bruins and DeBrusk could agree on a new contract for the winger who has scored 138 goals and has 128 assists in 465 games with the Boston Bruins.

Those are solid stats, but once again, this postseason, DeBrusk proved his worth when it mattered most. The 6-foot-1, 198-pound winger, who turns 28 in October, led his team in goals with five lamplighters and points with 11 in 13 playoff games. DeBursk now has 27 goals and 20 assists in 86 career playoff games. DeBrusk’s playoff scoring and physical play after a two-month-long battle through an injury leading into right up until the postseason makes it hard to believe his value on the NHL Free Agent market hasn’t increased.

Whether the Bruins decide to sign him before that value reveals itself is yet to be seen, but there’s no arguing that Debrusk did his part for an offensively-starved Bruins roster. DeBrusk left it all on the ice this season. Will that be enough for him to continue his career with the only team he’s ever known and still wants to play for?

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