DeBrusk more than just an offensive force

It might be a stretch for Jake DeBrusk to match last season’s 42-goal output, but the 19-year-old winger won’t be losing any sleep over that likelihood. Since being acquired by the Red Deer Rebels from the Swift Current Broncos in late December, the Edmonton native has steadily improved his two-way game and evolved into more than an offensive force. Quite simply, he’s as comfortable in the defensive zone as he is inside the opposing team’s blueline.

It might be a stretch for Jake DeBrusk to match last season’s 42-goal output, but the 19-year-old winger won’t be losing any sleep over that likelihood.

Since being acquired by the Red Deer Rebels from the Swift Current Broncos in late December, the Edmonton native has steadily improved his two-way game and evolved into more than an offensive force. Quite simply, he’s as comfortable in the defensive zone as he is inside the opposing team’s blueline.

“Last season (with Swift Current) I was scoring lots of goals but I found I was on for a lot of goals for both teams,” he said Thursday.

“I wasn’t necessarily one-dimensional but I found that as the year went on I was getting better defensively.

“I’ve been learning a lot about that part of the game this season and I take a lot of pride in that, especially being here.”

DeBrusk and current linemates Adam Musil and Adam Helewka have displayed that they’re not only capable of filling opposition nets, but are also adept at holding opposing lines in check.

“Our line has been going up against a lot of top lines. We want to shut them down and score a couple on them as well,” said DeBrusk. “That’s something that I take pride in every single game and something that will help me make the jump to the next level. Players who are strong defensively are players who are hard to play against.”

Sutter has been impressed with DeBrusk’s willingness to play hard in all areas of the ice, although he’s not surprised that the Boston Bruins’ first-round selection — 14th overall — in last year’s NHL entry draft has embraced the two-way game.

“He’s a smart player,” said Sutter. “There’s always been the talk of Jake being (mostly) an offensive type player, yet he’s also an intelligent player, a player who understands the game.

“For him to play at the next level he has to be a 200-foot player, someone who can play well in all three zones. He takes pride in that and he’s really worked at that part of his game since he’s been here. I think he’s always had that awareness, but here he doesn’t have to be the guy like he was in Swift Current. He doesn’t have to be the catalyst, he just needs to be one of our top forwards.

“It’s a situation where there’s not all the pressure on him to score and he can learn all the other ins of the game and focus on them.”

DeBrusk attended his first NHL training camp in September and along with the Bruins’ other first-round picks in the 2015 draft — Jakub Zboril and Zachary Senyshyn — failed a fitness test that consisted of six back-and-forth 300-metre sprints to be completed in under one minute per run.

The sprints, however, were run on a wet, slippery surface and Bruins GM Don Sweeney shrugged off the results. He stated that he expects that all three will fare better next year, calling it an “educational process.”

“It didn’t necessarily start out the greatest,” said DeBrusk, “but overall (being at the Bruins camp) was unbelievable, pretty much a dream come true. I learned a lot from the guys. They mixed us (incoming juniors) with veterans, so we got to see what they do day in and day out as pros. I just tried to work hard and learn as much as possible … be a sponge.

“It was pretty cool. I remember being one of the fans watching (Edmonton) Oilers practices and now I was out on the ice and fans were watching me.”

DeBrusk watched Oilers workouts while his father, Louie, was a member of the team over a six-year span. While the younger DeBrusk is willing to play a physical game, he and Louie don’t match up in terms of style.

The elder DeBrusk, a feared fighter and NHL heavyweight, was drafted by the New York Rangers in 1989 and also played with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks, but is best known for the time he spent with the Oilers. He racked up nearly 1,161 penalty minutes over the course of his 11-year career.

Despite their differing styles, Jake DeBrusk has found that the advice he’s received from his father — now an analyst on Sportsnet NHL telecasts — has helped him become a better player.

“He’s passed on some things he learned from his training camps, like how to make sure that you’re prepared,” said the Rebels forward.”He gives me pointers here and there and those go a long way.

“He was a different player than I am right now but he watches lots of hockey. He’s analyzing right now so he watches lots of pro games and knows what it takes to get there. Whatever advice he gives me helps give me an extra edge.”

DeBrusk, who last season collected 81 points (42g,39a) with the Broncos and has produced a combined 49 points (17-32) in 43 games with Swift Current and Red Deer this season, is delighted to be part of the 2016 Memorial Cup host team.

“I’ve been really happy and excited every since I got here,” he said. “Red Deer is close to home so my family can see me play a lot more and obviously there’s the Memorial Cup factor and playing for Brent.

“I’m really comfortable here and I’m starting to hit my form. It’s just really exciting and now I’m just looking forward to the home stretch and us pushing for first place (in the Central Division and Eastern Conference). Once we get some bodies back (from injury) we’re going to have a formidable lineup.”

DeBrusk, in all probability, is in the midst of his final WHL season after signing an NHL entry-level contract with the Bruins in November. It’s almost a certainty that he’ll skate with Boston’s AHL affiliate in Providence, N.Y, next season.

“It’s a real treat and an honour,” he said, in reference to his NHL deal. “I’m really happy and proud that they offered me a contract. It’s a good step in my career … a good initial step.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

More than 120,000 Albertans have signed up to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the first two days of appointment bookings. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta Health Services apologizes after seniors struggle to book vaccine appointments

The CEO and president of Alberta Health Services is apologizing after seniors… Continue reading

Red Deer’s Kyle Moore, 26, will be a houseguest on Season 9 of Big Brother Canada. (Photo courtesy Big Brother Canada)
Red Deer man will be a houseguest on Big Brother Canada

A Red Deer man will be a houseguest on the upcoming season… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools says that in the absence of additional funds from the provincial government, there was no consideration of using alternate classroom sites in the district. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools launches online engagement process

Red Deer Public schools is seeking community input to help ensure a… Continue reading

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (34) falls on his knees as he skates around Ottawa Senators defenceman Artem Zub (2) during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Thursday, February 18, 2021. The Maple Leafs will be without star centre Auston Matthews when they take on the Edmonton Oilers Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto star Auston Matthews won’t play as Leafs face Oilers

EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs will be without star centre Auston Matthews… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
From science to syringe: COVID-19 vaccines are miracles of science and supply chains

OTTAWA — A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough… Continue reading

Wetaskiwin RCMP say a Maskwacis man died after he was struck by a vehicle. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Clare’s Law in Saskatchewan used handful of times; Mounties review their role

REGINA — A first-of-its-kind law in Canada meant to warn those at… Continue reading

The Magpie river in Quebec is shown in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Boreal River MANDATORY CREDIT
Quebec river granted legal rights as part of global ‘personhood’ movement

MONTREAL — With its kilometres of rapids and deep blue waters winding… Continue reading

Thorough sanding of a table top is usually the first step to renewing a finish. Wax contaminants can sometimes still remain on a surface like this after sanding. Cleaning with rubbing alcohol and a rag gets rid of these contaminants without leaving a residue behind. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)
Houseworks: Fixing wood finishes

Q: How can I stop polyurethane from beading up on a mahogany… Continue reading

Most Read