For the money, Jake DeBrusk (JDB) is among the top 5 highest return on investment players in the NHL. Wait? Whaaaaaaat? How could a guy who only had 43 points be that valuable to his team?
Just 21 years old, JDB was selected in the middle of the 2015 player entry draft. As a restricted free agent, he earns roughly $900,000, and plays on the second line for Boston, often with David Backes ($6.0mm, 33 points) and David Krejci ($7.25mm, 44 points). That’s a lot of money for two players, especially when their performance adjusted for our metric, was basically matched by their upstart linemate. Here’s how…….
According to our work, even though JDB had a respectable 43 points this season, he scored a whopping +28 on our AB score. This really means he was a 71 point producer for his $900,000 salary. This puts JDB in elite company with the likes of Laine (+2.08), Marner (+2.24), Matthews (+8.50) and Nylander (+9.24) for production (adjusted for AB score).
All of these players represent incredible bang for the hockey buck. What they also provide to their teams are intangibles associated with mistake minimization. For example one of the metrics we use in calculating our AB score is net penalty margin. In the case of JDB, he took 2 (!!) minor penalties in 70 games. He drew a very respectable 20, resulting in a margin of 18 drawn versus taken. Not adjusted for time on ice, this means JDB put Boston on the power play for 36 minutes or 0.6 games. Boston scored 8.18 goals while man up this year, while scoring 2.85 while 5×5. JDBs contribution therefore was 3.20 goals at the margin for just this one metric.
We have also looked at our metric versus a number of other statistics juxtaposing pay with production. JDB ranks first in the NHL in our metric (and triple the second place finisher(!)), first in our metric relative to pay, and fifth in the NHL adjusting actual points with our score (Brayden Point leads this category). JDB is also squarely in the upper decile of the NHL when pay versus rank is calculated as well.
However, when adjusted for time on ice, this contribution becomes over 25 goals at the margin. What this means, in our parlance, is that JDB, by virtue of his speed and decision making, accounted for 25 goals through net penalty margin alone. Even though these 25 goals did not appear on the stat sheet, they represent goals not scored by the other team. Since we firmly believe that goals scored have exactly the same effect as goals not scored by the other team, JDB and his style of play is among, if not the most, valuable in the entire league. It will be interesting to see if a) he can repeat this performance next year and b) whether he or his agent (or dad Louie!) will read this article before it comes time to negotiate his new contract.
And if that contract is with any other team than Boston, then we think the Bruins would be making a grave error. Guys like this do not grow on trees. We think so much of the year JDB had that we have anointed him the second pope of HFFA, now that Darren Helm has reached the age of 30 and has been Logan’s Run(ned).