What UFA forward Jake DeBrusk can bring to the Maple Leafs

Ryan Smitheram
May 21, 2024  (9:45)

Jake DeBrusk
Photo credit: NHL

The Toronto Maple Leafs lacked secondary scoring once again in the playoffs, but Boston Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk could help change that if he hits the open market.

Although he was held pointless in the final four games of the series against the Leafs, Jake DeBrusk had 3 goals and 5 points in the first three games and had 2 goals and 6 points in six games against the Florida Panthers. DeBrusk is due for a new contract and could test the free agent market. Should he hit the open market, he is a player that the Leafs would be foolish not to take a swing at.
Coming off of a 2-year deal with a $4M cap hit, and consecutive seasons of 50 and 40 points, Evolving Hockey has projected that DeBrusk will get a substantial raise.
A 5-year deal worth $5.8M per season is the most likely projection based on Evolving Hockey's model, which, for what he brings outside of secondary scoring, is just fine.
On top of showing that he can produce in the playoffs, recording 17 points in his last 20 playoff games, DeBrusk showed this season that he can be physical, landing over 100 hits this season. He also produced in the defensive zone, blocking 48 shots this season, committing to improving his 200-foot game. His takeaway to giveaway ratio was positive and he played nearly 17 minutes per night as well.
Although he is only 6 feet tall, DeBrusk plays with a physicality that the Leafs need throughout their lineup. He can also play on the penalty kill and power play. If the Leafs move Mitch Marner and/or fail to re-sign Max Domi or Tyler Bertuzzi, DeBrusk would become a very viable replacement.
It wouldn't be the first time Leafs GM Brad Treliving goes after a former Bruin as he brought in Bertuzzi last off-season in the hopes that he would solve some of the secondary scoring, physicality and "snot" issues in Toronto. While Bertuzzi didn't fully blossom until the end of the regular season, his playoffs, like many Leafs, were not great and now the Leafs are about to embark on a very big roster makeover.
The interesting x-factor here, believe it or not, is Craig Berube. The new Leafs coach is said to have been given a voice in terms of which players the Leafs bring in or ship out. GM Brad Treliving wants his head coach to have a say in roster decisions to put him in a position to succeed. Who knows the players better than the coach?
If DeBrusk did enough over the past few seasons to draw the attention of Berube, we should expect the Leafs to aggressively pursue him. If Berube isn't sold on the character or work ethic of DeBrusk, though, the team may look elsewhere.
MAY 21   |   390 ANSWERS
What UFA forward Jake DeBrusk can bring to the Maple Leafs

Should the Leafs go after Jake DeBrusk this summer?

Yes29675.9 %
No9424.1 %
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