Is Jake Debrusk back?
Jake Debrusk's Bruins tenure has been a roller coaster. Debrusk was the 14th overall pick by the Bruins in the 2015 NHL Draft, the draft that has gone down in infamy for Boston Bruins fans around the world. Everyone knows Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney missed several star players with the three consecutive first-round picks the Bruins had that year. However, for Jake Debrusk to positively contribute to the Boston Bruins on a nightly basis, he does not need to play like the guys the Bruins missed out on in that draft. Debrusk needs to be the guy he was in his first two seasons in Boston. When he first arrived at the TD Garden, the young forward was an electrifying player. He was fast, energetic, and fearless. He was an easy player for Boston fans to love. Take a look at Debrusk's shift in game 1 of a 2018 playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning below:
Video via: Stanley Cup of Chowder
The Jake Debrusk in the above video is a player everyone wants on their team. Unfortunately, we have not seen that version of him in a long time. At one point, It appeared Debrusk would develop into a solid top-six Forward for the Bruins. But the following years proved otherwise. Debrusk regressed each year following the 2018-2019 season. He was nowhere near the player he was when he first arrived in the NHL. After several subpar seasons, Debrusk requested to be traded by the Bruins last season, hoping a change of scenery would turn things around. To raise his trade value, Debrusk was slotted on the first line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to generate more offense from the once-promising winger. It worked pretty well. He scored 25 goals for the B's and looked increasingly better throughout the season. However, with a cap hit of 4 million and the inconsistency of his play Debrusk was not traded at the NHL trade deadline. He handled the situation well but was adamant about not rescinding his trade request and hoped to find a new team in the offseason.
Fortunately for the Bruins, that never happened. Following the announcement of former Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy's departure, Jake Debrusk rescinded his trade request. Considering Debrusk rescinded his trade request following the coaching change the Bruins made this offseason, it is more than likely that Debrusk had difficulties with former Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy. Despite being a very successful coach, there have been numerous reports that Cassidy lost the Bruins locker room this past season. With new leadership on Boston's bench, Debrusk has another opportunity to become the player Boston believed he would be. On Monday night against the Panthers, Debrusk looked like the player Boston fans fell in love with for the first time in a long time. He won every puck race, killed penalties, and made intelligent plays with the puck. It was evident he was the best player on the ice for the Bruins in their 5-3 victory against a dangerous Florida Panthers team. It is so early in the season, but it is hard to ignore that Debrusk played with a level of confidence on Monday that he has not played with since his second season in Boston. It is too early to tell if the Jake Debrusk of old is back, but it is a great sign to see him playing with confidence and energy again. We have seen flashes of excellence from Debrusk over his six-year NHL career, but we have not seen consistency. Will that change under new coach Jim Montogomery? Only time will tell, in my opinion. Debrusk is the most important player for the Bruins this season because if the Bruins want to make another Stanley Cup run with; Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, and impending UFA David Pastrnak, they need Jake Debrusk. If Debrusk finds his game, the Bruins forward group will be the strongest it has been in years. He is the key because you cannot make a run at the Stanley Cup without his contribution.