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Uncertain Future for Boston Bruins Jake Debrusk

Jake Debrusk has been a top-six forward since he entered the league. As a restricted free agent and with little cap space, his future in Boston is unclear.
Jake Debrusk

Boston Bruins forward, Jake Debrusk, is set to become a restricted free agent when the 2019-20 season concludes. He’s been a top-six forward for Boston since the time he entered the league and has been a key playoff performer. However, the Bruins and Debrusk may be forced to part ways this offseason.

Jake Debrusk Future In Boston Unclear

In three seasons with the Bruins, Jake Debrusk has 68 goals and 58 assists for 120 points in 203 games. He’s been a mainstay on the second line alongside centre David Krejci. Debrusk averages 20 goals and 40 points per season with a career-high 27 goals during the 2018-19 season.

This offseason Boston will have three restricted free agents in Debrusk, Anders Bjork and Matt Grzelcyk as well as two unrestricted free agents in Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug.

Boston’s main focus will be on Krug, the quarterback of the team’s power play and one of the best puck-moving defensemen in the league. He could command around $8 million on a long-term contract. If Boston and Krug reach a deal at $8 million average annual value, that would leave Boston $10 million in cap space for Bjork, Grzelcyk, Debrusk and Chara.

A Hometown Discount

One reason for Boston’s sustained success with their core group of players is their willingness to take a hometown discount when negotiating new contracts. The first line of Patrice BergeronBrad Marchand and David Pastrnak all took discounts for under $7 million average annual value.

Krug has been open and willing to follow suit and take a hometown discount to stay in Boston. However, it’s unclear what that discount could look like. Regardless of the discount, Krug re-signing in Boston would certainly put the squeeze on Debrusk’s future there.

Unlike Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak, Debrusk’s agent said a hometown discount is not an option. “I don’t really consider that at this point. Will it play into it? Maybe.” said Rick Valette.

While that might be bad news for the 23-year-old’s future in Boston, an agent isn’t going to enter negotiations by starting low. As negotiations begin this offseason, both Debrusk and his agent may change their tune.

What is Jake Debrusk Worth

If Debrusk won’t take a hometown discount to stay in Boston, it’s time to look at his value on the open market. He isn’t the highest grade free agent and hasn’t shown the consistency or numbers to be a top-line player.

Nonetheless, Debrusk is a key top-six forward who’s personality and presence can energize a team and crowd. The salary cap won’t be changing from $81.5 million for the next few years. Debrusk might need to consider a three-year bridge deal instead of a long term contract.

A bridge deal would lock Debrusk in until the salary cap goes up when he’s due for a new contract. Though that’s a big gamble to make on yourself to maintain or improve your production.

Either way, Debrusk could command anywhere between $5-6 million per year this offseason. Philadelphia Flyers centre, Travis Konecny, drafted ten spots after Debrusk has put up similar numbers (averaging 20 goals and 46 points per year). Konecny agreed to a six-year extension last season with an average annual value of $5.5 million.

New York Islanders forward, Brock Nelson, has produced numbers similar to Debrusk and Konecny (averaging 21 goals and 42 points per year). Last year at 27-years-old, Nelson agreed to a six-year extension with an average annual value of $6 million.

Much like Nelson, Detroit Red Wings forward, Dylan Larkin (averaging 21 goals and 51 points per year), signed a five-year extension in 2018 with an average annual value of $6.1 million.

What It All Means

Looking at the market and the Bruins situation, it might be hard for Jake Debrusk to remain in Boston. The Bruins are expected to do all they can to bring back Krug at a good price. If they do, their limited cap space could squeeze out Debrusk.

Boston will likely only be able to give Debrusk an extension worth about $5 million per year. If he wants to test the open market a team could offer him a contract in the $6 million range.

If Debrusk does not take a hometown discount as his agent suggested, it’s likely a matter of one or the other when it comes to Debrusk and Krug. Signing Krug for near $8 million and Debrusk near $6 million would give Boston just $4 million in space for Bjork, Chara and Grzelcyk.

However, if Debrusk truly wants to remain in Boston it’s hard to believe a player of his stature not agreeing to a discount when the top producers have set that precedent.

Boston could open up space by moving defencemen, John Moore. That would give them just enough cap space to bring back Krug and Debrusk. If the Bruins want to bring back Debrusk and Krug, General Manager Don Sweeney will have to get creative this offseason.

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