Swift Current Broncos forward Jake DeBrusk picked up this season right where he left off last year. Just as he ended the 2013-14 season on a scoring tear with four goals and 14 points in his last 10 games, he has been a vital offensive threat for the Broncos early on this year. His 10 goals and 21 points in 18 games places him second on his team’s stats sheet.
“I felt I got going in the second half of last year when I started getting more ice time,” says DeBrusk, who turned 18-years-old on Oct. 17. “I learned from players like (former Bronco) Graham Black and Jay Merkley. They are skilled guys that play hard and I saw how they prepare themselves. Then this year I feel I took what I learned last year and applied it to this year. I also went into this year with more confidence because it’s my second year in the league.”
The 6-foot, 177-pound DeBrusk is a late-bloomer to some degree. He was listed at 5-foot-2 when Swift Current drafted him in the seventh round of the 2011 WHL bantam draft. His small stature combined with a training camp injury played into him spending a second season with SSAC Athletics in the Alberta Midget Hockey League rather than joining the Broncos in his first year of junior eligibility in 2012-13.
“I’m a bit of late-bloomer, but other things played into not playing in the WHL right away,” he says. “I suffered an injury right away in training camp in 2012, so that cut my tryout short right away. But I see the upside to how it played out because I went back to Edmonton and had a big role in midget. I really learned a lot playing in all situations and sprouted that year, too.”
DeBrusk is continuing the family business on the ice. His father, Louie Debrusk, played 401 games in the NHL from 1991-2003 after spending three years with the OHL’s London Knights. His hockey bloodline has benefited him as he has gained a better perspective on the game from his father.
“It was a real benefit to grow up around the game,” says DeBrusk, whom NHL Central Scouting Service ranked as a B-list prospect in its preliminary ranking. “I learned a lot being around the game and got to meet a lot of people in the game. And just with my dad, he has given me tips and advice along the way that I have really benefited from. We always talk about my games and he helps me learn more about the game.”
It’s safe to say DeBrusk won’t garner too many comparisons to his father. Unlike his dad, who played the role as an enforcer, the Edmonton, Alta., native is known for his offensive abilities while playing with an edge to his game.
“I don’t hear too many comparisons,” says DeBrusk. “We’re two different players and I think most know that. My dad was a tougher player and I am more of a scorer.”
Coincidentally, DeBrusk’s father formerly played with Broncos head coach-GM Mark Lamb on the Edmonton Oilers in early ‘90s. His father’s familiarity with Lamb helped ease him into the Broncos dressing room when he was a rookie.
“It’s kind of cool,” he says on his dad formerly playing with Lamb. “It kind of made me more comfortable with him (Lamb) when I was first coming into the league. It was nice to know that he knew my dad.”
1. Do you have a favourite NHL team?
“I like watching lots of teams, but I’d have to go with the (Edmonton) Oilers because I grew up watching them.”
2. Do you have a favourite NHL player?
“There are lots of great players that I like, but I’d have to go with (Toronto Maple Leafs winger) Joffrey Lupul. He’s a good scorer and I feel like I play like him a bit.”
3. Do you have a favourite road arena that you like to play in?
“I like playing in Kootenay (at Western Financial Place) because I’ve always played good there. I’ve seemed to have puck luck there.”
4. As a rookie last year, is there a player that stands out to you that you were excited to play against?
“Playing against (Leon) Draisaitl was special. He’s a great player and we played Prince Albert eight times last year so I got to see him a lot. I also remember playing against (Nicolas) Petan and (Brendan) Leipsic when we played Portland because they are two great players.”
5. If you weren’t entrenched in hockey, what other sport would you pursue?
“That’s a tough question because I’ve always been involved in hockey. I’m not a fan of the diving, but I’d have to go with soccer. I’ve always liked that sport.”
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen