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2023 Player Ratings: A season of rejuvenation for Jake DeBrusk

Or liberation, maybe?

Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers - Game Six Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

For once, there is perfect harmony: the readers and writers agree that Jake DeBrusk had a good, above average, 8 of a season. We are one.

(Actually, there were three players, including DeBrusk, where the ratings were the exact same. More on the other two as we complete the series.)

When pulling DeBrusk’s season numbers for this post, I was actually a little surprised — unlike many of the Bruins, DeBrusk didn’t have a monster year that blew his previous career highs out of the water.

He equaled his previous career high in goals and only improved on last year’s total by two. He didn’t set a career high in assists, though he did set one in points.

Still, it felt like a different season for DeBrusk last year, one where he was freed from the (alleged) shackles of Previous Coach Who Shall Not Be Named and he rewarded new coach Jim Montgomery for giving him a more consistent, expanded role.

And while his numbers don’t jump of the table at first glance, it’s worth factoring in that he missed nearly a quarter of the regular season (18 games), making his per-game numbers much more impressive compared to previous years.

DeBrusk set a new career high for ATOI, an increase of 1:45 over the previous season’s number. He ended up tied with Patrice Bergeron for second-most goals on the team, with Bergeron playing 14 more games.

Many will point to Bergeron and Brad Marchand for DeBrusk’s success last season, and it can't be entirely discounted: those two were DeBrusk’s most common 5v5 line mates by far during the regular season, though that changed at times in the postseason due to injuries.

However, they spent a decent amount of time together in the previous season as well, and DeBrusk’s numbers from 2022-2023 were better.

(A random aside: DeBrusk had just 16 PIM last season and an even more impressive 10 PIM the season before that...pretty impressive for a guy logging major minutes.)

DeBrusk had a decent enough playoffs as well, albeit an inconsistent one: he had four points in the Bruins wins in Games 3 and 4, then went pointless the rest of the way save for what should have been a massive shorthanded goal in that sh*tshow Game 6.

He failed to register a point in Games 2, 5, and 7, all Bruins losses.

Still, he isn’t (to me) one of the forwards you look at from that series and think they should have done more (any more than you could say that about any player, I guess).

Overall, I think most Bruins fans are pretty happy with the 2022-2023 performance from DeBrusk, especially considering the turbulent waters he was sailing on prior to the season (with the trade request and all that good stuff).

He became a more reliable, top-line (at times) forward who almost certainly would have exceeded 30 goals if not for injury. He did it all without some wildly inflated shooting percentage (14.1%, only slight above his six-year average of 12.8%).

Now, we get to wonder where it goes from here. DeBrusk has just one season left on his contract, a deal that carries an AAV of $4 million.

He’ll be a UFA next summer. He’ll be in line for a raise. Will the Bruins make him a part of the David Pastrnak-Charlie McAvoy-Goalies “core,” or will he become one of their more valuable trade chips next spring?

Time will tell, and that’s Dealin’ Don’s problem to solve.

Looking back, however, it was a good season for DeBrusk.

He was projected to be one of the players who’d benefit most from a new head coach, and for the most part, he delivered.

For once, we’re all in agreement.