The Canadiens are picking late in the first round of the draft for a third consecutive year, and will once again have to find the best possible value in what is traditionally a low-value pick when it comes to acquiring top talent. That being said, 2015 is reading as a strong draft class, and even at the end of the first round good players should be available.
With scoring talent a constant need for the Montreal Canadiens, it would certainly be in their interests to check out a 42-goal scorer who is flashing solid offensive skill. Enter Jake DeBrusk.
Birthplace: Edmonton, Alberta
Position: Left Wing
Height: 6’0" Weight: 176 lbs
DeBrusk is a 2nd-year skater with the Swift Current Broncos in the Western Hockey League, where he more than doubled his rookie year offensive production and caught the attention of scouts to become favoured as having 1st-round potential.
DeBrusk made a good accounting for himself among the draft-eligibles in the WHL this past season, his 42 goals and 39 assists ranked him 2nd in scoring among draft eligibles in the league and 4th in points-per-game, at 1.03. The key distinction he does have over his competitors is among first-time eligibles for draft in the WHL, he is the only to have scored over 40 goals.
He is not a big player, standing at 6' and weighing in at 175 pounds, but he displayed this past season that he has no reservations about driving the net to get a goal. He is credited with having the natural instincts of a goal scorer, finding open space to receive passes while simultaneously able to his use vision and hands to create his own chances. He reads as a smart player on the ice, with good decision making and high-end offensive vision that lets him be a serious threat in the offensive zone.
He gets credit for being a solid puck pursuer, who has no issue going into the hard areas to battle for a puck and shows a talent for retrieval. He's credited with being a well-balanced skater, not especially fast but with his hand skills and skating he is very hard to push off the puck once he has it. He is a capable defender, but is noted as having some work to do in that area of the game.
"A two-way winger with good mobility and scoring ability. Willing to battle in the dirty areas and can always find the puck and make the smart play below the hashmarks. Shows good creativity and deception with the puck. Good individual skills and makes good use of any time and space found. DeBrusk won't beat you up physically, but he can definitely beat you up on the scoreboard. All-in-all, a competitive two-way winger with the natural goal scorer's instincts."
"Debrusk is a heads-up player. always aware of his surroundings whether with or without the puck. He receives the puck extremely well and is also very good at getting into position to take pass. While crashing the net often, he's not just a pure grinder type. He picks his spots well, times his plays well and sniffs out the open areas of the ice around the crease. Has a good wrist shot with a snap release that is always a threat to pick a corner on even the most well positioned goalie. Possesses very strong decision making. He makes quick decisions and rarely makes a bad play regarding his positioning or play with the puck.
"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."
Future Considerations: 27th
Hockey Prospect: 23rd
McKeen's Hockey: 25th
ISS Hockey: 27th
Central Scouting Service, North American Skaters: 19th
It isn't hard to project DeBrusk being available at 26th overall given what we know of the rankings. There is always shifting in the draft, and while some team that is ahead of Montreal may covet DeBrusk, there is a good chance he becomes available given that no scouting agency ranks him into the Top-20 among all skaters.
On paper, DeBrusk fills in that ever-important question of who's going to score goals. The Canadiens are having a difficult time of finishing on scoring chances in the last two seasons and arguments about tactics aside, it would help to have a system that offers them assistance if they should reach for it. Goal scoring is a difficult commodity to acquire, and with only one prospect in the system to be credited with scoring 40 goals or more in the major junior ranks (Christian Thomas, 41G in 2010, 54G in 2011,) it would help to bolster system with another skater who will do anything to put a puck in the back of the net.
He is older among first-time eligibles with an October '96 Birthday, but he is also one of only two players under the age of 19 to score 40 goals this season in the WHL, especially given that the Swift Current Broncos were essentially a .500 team all season without much support to lend to DeBrusk. He did a lot with not very much around him.