BRIGHTON – Jake DeBrusk rarely watches hockey purely for the entertainment. For the 19-year-old Bruins prospect, there is much more to be gained from tuning in to a National Hockey League game than just a little fun.
DeBrusk frequently examines what happens on the ice, while attempting to pinpoint why plays occur and what attributes he can pull from certain players.
“It’s different because you analyze why did that go in, why did a person get to that spot,” said DeBrusk, who was one of 34 players to take the ice at Warrior Ice Arena on Tuesday morning for Bruins captain’s practice.
“There are lots of different things you can take from different teams. I always ask myself why did they do that or why didn’t they do that. There are lots of things I take from everyone.”
While he has always gathered as much hockey intel as possible, the Edmonton native’s ultimate goal is to carve out his own on-ice identity – one he hopes leads to a permanent spot on the Bruins roster.
That journey kicks off in earnest this week with Bruins Rookie Camp beginning on Thursday.
“I’m just getting ready and prepared with these skates and workouts in the morning here, just kind of getting ready for testing and rookie camp,” said DeBrusk, who is eligible to turn pro this season after playing the last three seasons in the Western Hockey League.
“It’s exciting. I know what to expect this year and know the whole process leading up to preseason…I’m way more comfortable now. I know everyone here pretty much and I know lots of guys that are going to camp.
“This year, it’s striving [to make] the team and striving for whatever makes the Boston Bruins better.”
Just a year removed from being drafted with the 14th overall pick, the idea of DeBrusk making the varsity is not so far-fetched. In fact, Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney believes many of the Black & Gold’s youngsters have a chance to make some noise during training camp.
“I don’t think it’s unrealistic,” Sweeney said Monday during the 13th annual Boston Bruins Golf Tournament at The International in Bolton. “I don’t think we want to put all that pressure and expectations on any individual.
“But it’s a great opportunity for our younger guys to realize they’re a big part of our future. And whether that is now, they’ll dictate that whether or not they’re ready.”
DeBrusk believes he is ready, but knows he must prove his preparedness to the Bruins brass over the next month.
“That’s the dream, right?” DeBrusk said of playing in the NHL. “That’s what I’ve been thinking about every single day and I’m doing everything I can. It starts with rookie camp. You’ve got to have a good one to lead into main camp. Lots of guys on the ice today are fighting for jobs.
“We’re all really good for each other, but when it comes down to it, it’s going to be exciting.”
With such stiff competition for the final roster spots, DeBrusk knows the work a player puts in off the ice can be what separates himself from the rest of the pack. That’s exactly why he stepped up his off-ice training – particularly his speed and strength – this summer.
“I was doing some sprint work and more stair work, more off-the-ice, out-of-the-gym stuff,” said DeBrusk. “I think that Crossfit stuff really helps nowadays with explosiveness and power. I thought that I did the best I could up to this point to prepare myself.
“But you know what? It’s going to come down to the things in the tournament and the things that lead up to camp that’s going to make the difference.”
On the ice, goal scoring and offensive production has been DeBrusk’s forte, as he tallied 63 goals and 146 points in 133 games over the last two seasons in the WHL. It is that part of his game that he feels is most ready for the National Hockey League.
“My goal-scoring abilities in and around the net…just my offensive instincts, I think that is really big for me,” said DeBrusk. “When I’m playing well and playing good, that’s how I score my goals. You can’t really weave through guys and things like that like you could in junior.
“It’s a lot different of a league and it’s a lot quicker of a league. I just have to get to the front of the net and make my presence felt.”
Making his presence felt is exactly what he wants to do throughout the Bruins organization this fall.
“I’ve been here for a year now and I expect to push for the team, so I’ve got to be comfortable around these guys because if things go well, I’ll be playing,” said DeBrusk.
“Just put your best foot forward and give it your all, and expect to be there in your mind…aim high because you never know.”