Even before the pandemic, Jake DeBrusk found his name on the trade rumor mill on a small handful of occasions. Yet, the Bruins didn’t have any thoughts about shipping the 2015 first-round selection to another squad.
Though he’s provided his share of clutch moments through his first three seasons in Boston, including a magnificent Game 7 outing against Toronto in the spring of 2018, the Bruins still envision some growth in DeBrusk’s skillset and all-around game. With that in mind, the two sides opted to ink a two-year contract with an annual salary cap hit of $3.675 million per season.
Like his prior negotiations with defensemen Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy more than 12 months ago, GM Don Sweeney had his hands full trying to sign DeBrusk under a tight salary cap. The trio will become RFA’s again when their respective contracts expire following the 2021-22 season.
Unlike Carlo and McAvoy, the negotiations with DeBrusk happened in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, DeBrusk and the Bruins agreed on a bridge deal instead of hoping to secure a long-term contract.
“We had initial talks as we did with Brandon and Charlie and young players we think are part of our future, our core, that we’ll look to try and do a longer term, and sometimes it just doesn’t work,” Sweeney admitted during Monday’s Zoom call with the media. “And in this case, I think a little of the unknown landscape had me pivot back to a shorter term to allow us flexibility now and then moving forward, and obviously allowing Jake for the next platform.”
The Bruins still envision DeBrusk as a key cog for years to come. They originally thought they could’ve agreed to a longer-term deal before the coronavirus outbreak.
The pandemic put a dent in any long term deal. But that didn’t stop the two sides from finding a short term solution.
“I think it kind of changed, to be honest with you,” DeBrusk said during Tuesday’s Zoom call. “I think originally, we started talking about long term. This was last year I believe. We were talking about long-term deals. And then, obviously, the pandemic hit and different things kind of came in the fold here with the salary cap and all these different variables, obviously. Then it switched to a short-term deal. I’d say, at first, no. but then I kind of understood the common ground and very happy that this was able to get done.”
Amidst the uncertainty heading into the 2020-21 campaign, DeBrusk will have plenty to prove when he dons the Spoked B again. The 24-year-old showcased flashes of brilliance during his first three years in Boston — tallying 120 points (62 goals, 58 assists) in 203 games — spending most of his time next to the crafty David Krejci on the second line.
The short-term deal gives DeBrusk some time to work out his kinks and become a well-rounded commodity. He’s worked on his strength and quickness since returning home to snowy Edmonton after the Stanley Cup champion Lightning eliminated the Bruins from the postseason bubble.
Now a relieved and humbled DeBrusk can return to his off-season training with a new contract in hand.
Obviously, there are bigger things in life than hockey. I’m in a very lucky position where I was able to come to a contract agreement. And people are losing their lives and their jobs here,” DeBrusk said. “There were some tough days for sure. Especially, living in Edmonton, the pressure of kind of hearing about it all the time. It was one of those things where, it wasn’t like I didn’t want to think about it but, like I said, I’m very happy this was able to get done and happy for the support I had around me.”
Amidst retirement speculation, Zdeno Chara remains the lone Bruin from last year without a new deal. Sweeney stated that the negotiations with the 6-foot-9 blueliner remain status quo during his media call on Monday.
No one knows if Chara will join DeBrusk and company once training camp starts. Heck, we don’t even know if there will even be an upcoming season because of the rampant ongoing Covid outbreak.
Whenever the league resumes play, we know that #CellySzn will be right around the corner.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
Bruins Daily is a NHL credentialed media organization that is dedicated to being the leading provider of Boston Bruins news, analysis, and commentary, by focusing exclusively on the Boston organization. Bruins Daily provides written content, studio produced video, and on location video, all with a unique voice that fans can relate to. Complete coverage is provided through all of the latest NHL/AHL news, updates, scores, injuries, transactions and fan events.