By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
One key component in the Boston Bruins’ long-term success has been every in-house talent’s willingness to take less.
It’s created dueling bargains on the wings of the B’s top line — Brad Marchand makes a fitting $6.3 million per year while David Pastrnak’s $6.66 million is a true deal with the devil — and allowed the Bruins to keep their Stanley Cup-competitive core together. This is one area of the job that general manager Don Sweeney has nailed. And while there’s never been any direct confirmation, it’s been said that there’s some sort of internal agreement that no new contract will make more than Patrice Bergeron ($6.875 million).
But Rick Valette, the agent for pending restricted free agent Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk, isn’t considering that structure or a ‘hometown discount’ to be a factor in his client’s upcoming payday.
“I don’t really consider [the Boston structure] at this point. Will it play into it? Maybe. I would hope not. That’s not typically how I would approach that,” Valette said during a radio appearance on ‘Oilers Now’ last week. “The one thing I would add to Jake is that you want to look at his playoff performance and what he’s done in the playoffs in big games. I’ll give you the Toronto series from a couple of years ago, for example. He’s a big-game performer and he’s been a top six forward almost from the moment he stepped in the NHL.”
To Valette’s point, DeBrusk has scored some big goals throughout his career, and none bigger than the Game 7 tally that sealed the deal on the Black and Gold’s 2018 Game 7 win over the Maple Leafs. Overall, the 23-year-old has scored 10 goals and added nine assists in 36 career postseason games. He also scored a career-best 27 goals in 2018-19. (It’s enough for Bob Stauffer, the man interviewing Valette, to suggest that DeBrusk is a $6 million a year player.)
“[The Bruins] certainly have some internal things that they like to look at, but I’m going to try to not look at that,” Valette admitted. “I guess that’s the way I would say it to you.”
DeBrusk’s agent is doing what any agent should do. It wouldn’t make any damn sense for an agent to come out and say, “Yeah, we’re actually going to take less than what we’re worth” out of the gate. But barring an on-fire postseason, it’s unlikely to imagine the Bruins shelling out $6 million a year to retain DeBrusk, as the 2015 first-round has struggled to develop consistency as a goal scorer, and those issues have defined his 2019-20 to date.
While the third-year pro finished the regular season with 19 goals (fourth-most on the team), his year could’ve been dramatically better with that consistency, as DeBrusk struggled to fit with David Krejci like he did in the first two years of his career, and entered the pause with just two goals over his final 17 games of the season.
And with the cap remaining flat for the 2020-21 season, the most likely end result for DeBrusk and the Bruins is a bridge deal that comes with a significant raise but sets DeBrusk up to truly cash in should he iron out some of those issues that have limited him from being an even stronger top-six threat through the first three years of his career.
That flat cap has left the Bruins will have over $18 million to re-sign DeBrusk, as well as fellow restricted free agents Anders Bjork and Matt Grzelcyk, while Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, and Joakim Nordstrom are the team’s unrestricted free agents.