Boston Bruins, Don Sweeney, Jake DeBrusk

Boston Bruins: Predicting Jake DeBrusk’s Next Contract

The only NHL team that Jake DeBrusk knows is the Boston Bruins. Since being drafted 14th overall in the first round of the 2015 Entry Draft, the Edmonton, Alberta native has had his ups and downs wearing the Black and Gold.

After scoring a career-high 27 goals in 2018-19, he took a step back the next two seasons, then in November of 2021, it was made public that he had requested a trade through his agent to Bruins general manager (GM) Don Sweeney. It turned into a four-month story of where would he go and what would be the return that Sweeney could get? As it turned out, Boston never honored his request and signed him to a two-year contract extension for $8 million right before the 2022 trade deadline.

Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins
Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Following that season, the Bruins fired Bruce Cassidy and hired Jim Montgomery, which prompted DeBrusk to rescind his trade request. After playing well late in the 2021-22 season, DeBrusk returned last season and tied his career high for goals with 27 and if it wasn’t for an injury in the Winter Classic in January, he would have set a new career-high playing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

This season, DeBrusk will be without Bergeron after he announced his retirement, and playing with a new center is going to be interesting to see what he does offensively. Before the Bruins gather for training camp at Warrior Ice Arena in a couple of weeks, he recently spoke about wanting to remain a Bruin beyond this season when he becomes an unrestricted free agent (UFA) for the first time in his career. If he is to remain in Boston, what would a contract look like?

DeBrusk Took off Offensively in 2022-23

As mentioned above, he tied his career-high for goals with 27, while collecting 23 assists and 50 points. Now the question going into this season is can he repeat that or come close to it with either Pavel Zacha, Charlie Coyle, Morgan Geekie, or anyone else not named Bergeron?

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When the NHL shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, the Bruins had 12 games remaining and DeBrusk was sitting on 19 goals and looking for a second consecutive 20-goal season. It didn’t happen and then he started his regression until Cassidy moved him to the top line in late February of 2021. Since then, he has been playing his most consistent hockey, playing well in all three zones, playing in all situations, and looking more like a first-round pick. 

DeBrusk Wants to Stay in Boston and What Is a Comp Deal?

DeBrusk spoke to NHL.com on Aug. 29 and he said that he wants to remain in Boston beyond this season. You have to think at this point that the Bruins feel the same way.

“I’m hoping to stay [with the Boston Bruins]. It’s the only team that I know and the team that I grew up with,” DeBrusk said. “Hopefully it goes in that direction, and we’ll see how it goes. That’s why I have an agent (Rick Valette), and I told him I wanted to stay out of this one and in time, it’ll be nice when it all gets done.”

If DeBrusk and his agent want a starting point, then they need to look no further than what the Tampa Bay Lightning and Brandon Hagel agreed on. His eight-year deal for $52 million carries an average annual value (AAV) of $6.5 million. Last season Hagel had 30 goals and 24 assists and before that, his previous high in goals was 21 with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2021-22. 

Brandon Hagel Tampa Bay Lightning
Brandon Hagel, Tampa Bay Lightning (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In comparison, DeBrusk tied his career-high in goals with 27 and it was the third season of scoring 20-plus goals. Over the last two seasons, he has 52 goals and 40 assists, with most of the coming after he was bumped up to the first line. He has three 20-goal seasons compared to just two for Hagel.

What a New Deal Looks Like

The Bruins are going to have to pay DeBrusk to keep and they will have to give him a raise from the $4 million he’s going to make this season. A short-term deal with a big AAV seems like it would not make sense for Sweeney, but signing him with term, say six seven, or eight seasons makes sense and will feel like a win-win deal.

A fair deal for DeBrusk would be eight years at $54 million with a $6.75 million AAV. That may seem like a lot, but over time, it would be a good deal for Boston. DeBrusk has more NHL time than Hagel, but he has shown when he’s playing to his capabilities, he can be a 30-goal scorer and it feels like it’s only a matter of time before he is.

It would be in Sweeney’s best interest to get a deal done sooner rather than later and if his history tells us anything, aside from David Pastrnak last season who signed in March, he will certainly try. He locked up Charlie McAvoy before the 2021-22 season and if they are truly committed to their top-left wing, they should do the same before the season opener on Oct. 11 against the Blackhawks.


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