The Boston Bruins have finally signed Jake DeBrusk, inking the restricted free agent forward to a two-year deal. The new contract will carry an average annual value of $3.675MM. DeBrusk was not eligible for salary arbitration. PuckPedia reports the salary breakdown:
- 2020-21: $2.5MM
- 2021-22: $4.85MM
It’s hard to know exactly what DeBrusk is for this Boston team. Is he the fourth musketeer behind David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand, able to elevate a second line and provide enough secondary scoring to make the Bruins perennial Stanley Cup contenders? Or is he the inconsistent winger that scored just 35 points last season and bounced all over the lineup? After his 27-goal output in just 68 games during the 2018-19 season many may have answered the former, but this bridge deal proves that it is not yet decided.
Now 24, DeBrusk is a scouts dream, armed with speed, skill, and an in-your-face attitude that can knock opponents off their game (or into the press box). He has all the tools to be a top scoring threat in the NHL but is still frustratingly inconsistent and disappears too often. There’s no doubt that he can be an asset to any team, especially one like the Bruins who can usually (at least in recent times) look ahead to the playoffs before the season even begins. The postseason is where DeBrusk should thrive and he has shown he can be a difference-maker there, scoring 14 goals and 23 points in 49 games.
But the idea of signing him to a long-term, big-money deal still seems risky for the Bruins. This two-year bridge deal will give DeBrusk a chance to prove exactly what he is in the NHL and give Boston a better idea of how their financial situation will look down the road. Brandon Carlo will need a new contract after the upcoming season and Charlie McAvoy’s will now expire at the same time as DeBrusk—who, notably, will still be an RFA at the end of this deal. With Bergeron now firmly in his mid-thirties, David Krejci on the final year of his deal, and Zdeno Chara not even re-signed this fall, the veteran core of the Bruins could look very different by the time the team negotiates another contract with DeBrusk. If he has taken another step forward, perhaps he can be a part of the new core that takes over.
Of course, if there was any thought of moving on from the inconsistent winger this offseason, it probably went out the window when the Bruins received injury updates on Pastrnak and Marchand. Both players are expected to miss the beginning of the season after undergoing major surgery, meaning DeBrusk may actually get a chance to play next to Bergeron on the top line. At the very least he should receive increased minutes and a chance to prove he can produce at the very top of a lineup.
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