The son of a former NHLer. A gritty, hard-nosed forward. A goal scorer. Here’s all you need to know about 2015 NHL draft prospect Jake DeBrusk.
Age on June 26: 18
Birthplace: Edmonton, Alta.
Current team: Swift Current Broncos, WHL
Position: Left wing
Weight: 176 pounds
NHL Central Scouting rank (North American): 19th
Marek’s Take: Has the ability to score goals (tucked 42 in the WHL this season) and brings with that a strong work ethic. Was used in all three forward positions by Swift Current head coach Mark Lamb this season. DeBrusk really took to playing the right side as a left-hand shot. Will most likely play center next season for Mark Lamb. Comparable: Chris Kunitz
He’s the son of former NHLer Louie
Sportsnet analyst and former NHL enforcer Louie DeBrusk played 401 games in the NHL and racked up 1,161 career penalty minutes, but was never the highly-regarded prospect his son Jake is.
Louie’s best year in major junior was as an overager with the London Knights when he scored 64 points in 61 games, to go along with 223 penalty minutes. And while Jake has an edge to his game, he’s more about scoring goals. This season, as an 18-year-old, Jake scored 42 goals and 81 points in 72 games, with 40 penalty minutes.
“I’ve heard it basically my whole life that no one knows where I got my hands from,” Jake told the Regina Leader-Post in February. “Me and my dad have a good time with it. He was a pretty good junior player. He scored 31 goals one year with the London Knights in the OHL. I have 33 right now. It was a little bit of a friendly bet at Christmas. I beat him there.
“I get most of my stuff from my dad, honestly. His advice is second to none. He knows what it takes. It’s just nice to have a guy like that in my corner.”
Jake isn’t a fighter like his dad was, but he can hold his own if challenged. Check out this fight from early in 2014-15, where DeBrusk started on the bottom…
He’s a prospect on the rise
DeBrusk only scored 15 goals in 2013-14, so his jump to 42 is an impressive improvement. In NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary rankings DeBrusk was a ‘B’ level prospect, indicating a second or third round pick.
By mid-season, he had jumped to 24th among North American skaters on Central Scouting’s list and by the end of the year, he was at 19. And even in Damien Cox’s final draft rankings, DeBrusk had jumped from 30th overall, to 19.
Going all the way back to 2011, when DeBrusk was drafted into the WHL, he was way off the radar. That year, Swift Current got him in the seventh round with the 137th overall pick.
He sustained a concussion right at the end of the season
DeBrusk’s Broncos were swept in the first round of the WHL playoffs by the Regina Pats.
After taking a stretch pass and coming in for a scoring chance in the last two minutes of Game 3, DeBrusk was caught by Pats defenceman James Hilsendager with a blindside hit that knocked DeBrusk to the ice. He did not play Game 4.
Hilsendager wasn’t penalized on the play, but did get suspended for three games.
He attended his first hockey game at three years old
Hockey is in Jake’s blood and he’s been around the game his entire life. In fact, he was three years old when he attended his first hockey game. Just don’t ask him to recite any highlights.
“I know my first game I attended because my parents told me, but I can’t remember the result,” he said.
He was in high demand at the NHL Combine
Maybe because he was such a late riser, DeBrusk had every NHL team wanting to ask him questions. At this year’s combine in Buffalo, DeBrusk had interviews with all 30 NHL teams.
“I’m actually really excited for visiting all the teams,” he told NHL.com leading up to the event. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Teams are interested in him because he has a lot of tools. He’s a goal scorer who isn’t shy to throw his body around and fight for the hard areas of the ice, especially in front of the net.
“His work ethic is off the charts,” Central Scouting’s Peter Sullivan said. “But what also helps are those 42 goals scored; he’s a 40-goal scorer who does the dirty work in front of the net on the power play. Guys have made a career of standing in front of the net and have played 10 to 15 years doing so. But he drives that car for them. I love his work ethic and his greatest strength is his compete level.”