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Swift Current prospect DeBrusk creating own niche

by Mike G. Morreale

Swift Current Broncos left wing Jake DeBrusk still finds it hard to believe he's watching his father, Louie DeBrusk, when viewing old video clips during his heyday with the Edmonton Oilers.

The elder DeBrusk, who now serves as a hockey analyst for Sportsnet, spent six seasons with the Oilers from 1991-92 through 1996-97 and had 19 goals, 31 points and 797 penalty minutes in 228 games. Much of that time spent in the penalty box was a result of the five-minutes-for-fighting variety.

"He threw pretty hard back then," Jake said with a grin. "I'm watching him and thinking, 'How can my dad be doing that?' It's a little bit remarkable watching those actually.

"I think we'd both agree that we are different hockey players."

Louie DeBrusk said he and Jake enjoy reviewing the time he spent in the NHL.

"We have fun with it for the obvious reason that he is a completely different player than I was and it was a different time," he said. "I do still think there is a place for the physical part of the game and have tried to give him advice on how to handle himself if he has to. Being an offensive player, he can be a target and you have to be able to protect yourself."

The 6-foot, 171-pound DeBrusk, No. 19 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American players eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft, was actually the go-to player for the Broncos in the Western Hockey League. He led them with 42 goals, 81 points and 13 power-play goals in 72 games this season. He also had 40 penalty minutes.

"We're proud of Jake, especially with how motivated and committed he is to be the best he can be and always improve," DeBrusk said. "We are so excited for him and the upcoming draft. He's dreamed about this his whole life and is chasing his dream to be in the NHL. We are thrilled to be along for the ride."

Not surprisingly, Jake DeBrusk has been around hockey for quite some time, attending his first game when he was three days old.

"I know my first game I attended because my parents told me, but I can't remember the result," he said. "My dad knows what it takes to get to the next level and his daily advice is huge."

DeBrusk enjoys going to the front of the net, getting his stick on pucks for deflections and battling to the hard areas of the ice. He has good speed and hands. He's a big fan of Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa.

"I know I'll have to learn to make plays at a fast pace in the NHL," DeBrusk said. "Everything in the NHL nowadays is bigger, faster and stronger. I've got to get stronger and quicker for sure and learn how to make plays at that level; just keep getting better every single day."

Peter Sullivan, who evaluates players in the WHL for NHL Central Scouting, says DeBrusk has an incredible work ethic.

"His work ethic is off the charts 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 power play," Sullivan said. "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."

Sullivan also provided one other informative scouting tip.

"Jake told me he guesses he got mom's hands," he said.

Even Louie DeBrusk would probably say that's a good thing.

As a rookie with the Broncos in 2013-14, Jake DeBrusk had 15 goals and 39 points in 72 games. He was chosen in the seventh round (No. 137) by the Broncos in the 2011 WHL bantam draft.

"He has a coach in Mark Lamb that really stresses the importance of playing the game the right way; the 200-foot game," Louie DeBrusk said. "Jake bought into that. As a result his ice time increased and he was used in all situations. He also puts the work in; he trained very hard in the offseason with his trainer Greg Lembke out of Edmonton to get stronger in all areas and I believe it has shown in his game. He's gained confidence in his game, believes he can be a difference, and that's so important for any player to have that mentality."

DeBrusk closed out the regular season on a four-game point streak (six goals, 13 points).

"My season was awesome and I felt pretty consistent throughout," DeBrusk said. "Probably the biggest influence has been my head coach Mark Lamb. He's a really good coach and focuses on both ends of the puck; if you're playing well he'll give you ice time and if you're not he won't. I enjoy his coaching."

The Edmonton Oilers own two picks in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., on June 26, including the No. 1 choice. What would it mean to DeBrusk to be drafted and possibly play for the same organization where dad spent the early parts of his career?

"It would be amazing to play for the Oilers; I grew up in Edmonton and saw my first Oilers game when I was young," DeBrusk said. "I was there during that playoff run in 2006 so to be drafted by that team would be amazing. It'd be amazing to be drafted by any team. I can't really control that."

One highlight of the season for DeBrusk was when he had an opportunity to play on a line with Erie Otters center Dylan Strome and London Knights center Mitchell Marner at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Jan. 22. Though his team lost the game, the experience was something he won't forget.

"I watched both those guys on television and saw highlights of them so to be on their line was pretty cool," DeBrusk said. "Mitch is a good player, you give him the puck and he can fly. Dylan is so smart and knows where to go and has a good shot.

"Playing at the Top Prospects Game was a goal I set at the beginning of the season and to play in the game was a huge honor. Now it's time to take the next step."


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