Jake Debrosk, Pavel Zacha and the path to becoming Bruins’ core players

It just happens Pavel Zacha (No. 6 in general) and Jake Debrosk (#14) They were drafted in 2015. Yes, that year.

The NHL 2015 is known as Conor McDavid Draft. The Bruins I know it as the year they didn’t reach the roof of their house, to put it politely.

So far, Zacha (179 career points, 16th most among the 2015 draft class) and DeBrusk (176, No. 17) have been good NHLers. But of the 15 members of the 2015 class that preceded Zaka in scoring to this point, 11 were subsequently selected. New Jersey Picked the left shot forward. As for DeBrusk, seven of the 16 players who scored more have gone after he became a Bruin player.

So if you measure Zacha and DeBrusk by the connective leads of draft order, skill set and offensive production, you can categorize the wings as having more to offer. They are the two names that coach Jim Montgomery mentioned first when asked which players he would like to help reach greater heights.

“There are different players at different stages of their careers and we hope, as an organization, that they will take steps and steps to become the core players we depend on for production,” Montgomery said. “There are other players that we hope will become key players. In the first example, it would probably be Zacha and DeBrusk.”

The 25-year-olds will have great opportunities to display their items at the start of 2022-23. Montgomery plans to give Zacha and DeBrusk first-line rides with Patrice Bergeron. Brad Marchand And the David Pasternak They are NHL Superstars in part due to past collaborations with five-time winner Selke Trophy.

Usually, Marchand and Bergeron play side by side. But with left wing No. 1 unavailable after surgery on both hips, Montgomery identifies Zakka as Bergeron’s short-term playmate.

First, Montgomery is allowed to roll Taylor Hall as a second-line threat. Second, playing with Bergeron should immediately give new Zacha relief after seven seasons in the New Jersey organization. Third, Bruins . traded Eric Hola For Zakka because of his potential, not just because he’s six years younger than him.

“He has all the talent to be able to take advantage of the situational opportunity,” General Manager Don Sweeney said after the former Devil signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract. “It will be up to him and I hope he finishes at a slightly higher rate. He has played with good players and young players. He will play with good players who are established here and hopefully he will benefit from it. We think there is a higher attack cap there as a good two-way player.”

In 2020-21, Zakka scored an average of 0.89 goals per 60 minutes of play from five to five, according to Natural Statistics Trick. He was the highest average of his career and the third best player on the team after Travis Zajak and Miles Wood. However, Zakka scored by draining the best 13.85 percent of his 65 shots.

Pavel Zacha’s record slipped in 2021-22. (Ed Mulholland / USA Today)

So when he slipped to 7.92 percent of his shot percentage last season, his goals per 60 clip dropped to 0.52, No. 10 on the New Jersey roster. Zacha has a 7.94 percent of a five-on-five career in shooting.

Last season , Nico Hescher He was Zaka’s most common companion. A first choice in 2017, the 23-year-old Hescher could become the New Jersey version of Bergeron. For now, though, it’s a far cry from that.

Zaka will play the real thing.

With Bergeron as his center, Zacha practically guarantees more time playing with the puck in the attack zone than he does chasing it on his end. Bergeron excels at distributing pucks to his comrades in high-quality shooting areas.

For DeBrusk, his speed should support his opponents to create more soft points for Zacha. DeBrusk will play an important role in Montgomery’s transition system. He will be free to fly once the Bruins acquire ownership.

So while DeBrusk’s wheels should benefit Zacha, they will be crucial to motivating his offensive game. The contradiction that had bothered him for parts of the past three seasons dissipated in the second half of last year. DeBrusk played with the principles that Cassidy stressed over and over: being tough on pucks, staying engaged in the play, and going to the overcrowded ice.

From January 1 to the regular season final on April 29, DeBrusk averaged 1.35 goals per 60 in five-to-five, the team’s second-highest after Pastrnak (1.86). In 302:07 of a five-on-five time DeBrusk participated with Bergeron, the Bruins outperformed their opponents 18-8. DeBrusk did all of this while he wanted to get out of Boston.

This is no longer the case.

The Cassidy-DeBrusk partnership, which had been corrupted at times, has ended. DeBrusk has a chance to start over with Montgomery among his teammates he loves and in the city he enjoys. The responsibility of the first line could be a springboard towards the big push day after 2024 which has been postponed until now.

After all, Debrosk’s position may be permanent.

Once Marchand is eliminated, Zakka will walk away from the top line missions. This may not be the case for DeBrusk.

Part of the reason Montgomery gives DeBrusk a first-line appearance is offensive balance. Instead of grouping the three most dangerous attackers together, Montgomery can defeat two dangerous units by keeping Pastrnak and Hall David Krigseywings. In fact, given their past chemistry, the Hall-Krejci-Pastrnak trio might hold the offensive day early in the season. For that to happen, Montgomery would need the 25-year-old to be the influential No. 1 right winger.

That will be up to DeBrusk.

(Top photo by Jake DeBrusk and Patrice Bergeron: Winslow Townson / USA Today)

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