It’s become increasingly hard to project the future of Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk.
At least in Boston.
After the worst season of his NHL career, and after the Bruins re-signed Taylor Hall to a long-term deal, some were wondering if DeBrusk’s days in Boston were over. Some were even wondering if DeBrusk was going to be exposed to the Seattle Kraken with the Bruins potentially looking to get out of his real money due in 2021-22 ($4.85 million in actual money compared to a $3.67 million cap hit) with an expensive offseason wishlist on the agenda. And it certainly didn’t help that the Bruins opened up free agency by signing three left-shot forwards, all of whom have significant left-wing experience and project to be fixtures in the team’s bottom-six forward grouping.
But we’re in the dog days of the offseason and DeBrusk is still a Bruin, and Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy seems to be making his 2021-22 plans with DeBrusk in mind and with a home on the Black and Gold’s third line out of the gate.
“Jake, obviously on the left side with the third line behind [Brad] Marchand and Taylor [Hall] would be a good fit for him to start,” Cassidy said. “”If Jake ends up [as the] third-line left winger, he’s going not against top pairs maybe as much as he used to. So can you convince him to bring a little bit more in that regard?”
This, of course, has been the B’s ask out of DeBrusk for too long to count now. They’ve repeatedly said that if DeBrusk isn’t scoring, he needs to find other ways to impact the game. Or, at the very least, create his own luck versus relying on a bounce to go his way. The success of a strong third line (especially on a Stanley Cup contender) is often predicated on those kind of details, so that seems unlikely to change when it comes to their requests out of No. 74 once again.
The Bruins are also in an unfamiliar spot here, too, with Erik Haula, Tomas Nosek, and Nick Foligno yet to report to town and find out their fit within the B’s mix. The Bruins aren’t even sure who it will be centering their second line. They have a clear favorite in mind, but that’s just that until the blades touch the ice sometime in September.
That makes someone like the 24-year-old DeBrusk, flaws and struggles and everything in between, still a potentially viable part of the equation given his experience and past success in town.
“We’ve got some new faces down there that we don’t know a lot about,” Cassidy admitted. “They should be excited to find their place in the lineup. [We’l] see where it goes with the other guys.”
And perhaps more importantly, if DeBrusk can bounce back and thrive in a role with less pushback from the opposition.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.