NHL Writer Makes ‘Bold’ Bruins Prediction, Names Breakout Candidate

Will Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk garner more acclaim this season?

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Will a pair of Boston Bruins young guns rise to occasion in 2021?

ESPN’s Emily Kaplan named defenseman Charlie McAvoy and left wing Jake DeBrusk as Bruins players whom she expects to shoulder great responsibility in the coming NHL season. DeBrusk, 24, and McAvoy, 23, each have three seasons of NHL regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs experience under their respective belts, and that might be why Kaplan and other NHL observers point to them as players who must offer crucial support to Boston’s veteran core.

Kaplan centers her “bold prediction” about Boston’s season around McAvoy, who she claims “will be a Norris Trophy finalist in 2021.”

“The tutelage of (Zdeno) Chara aided McAvoy in his first three seasons, but now it’s time for the 23-year-old to shine in his own right,” Kaplan wrote. “Don’t be surprised to see the all-situations right-shooting defenseman play upward of 25 minutes per game.”

Kaplan isn’t alone in holding lofty expectations for McAvoy. ESPN and the NHL Network both count him among the NHL’s best young players and top-50 players, respectively, and the Bruins hope he’ll develop into the franchise’s next great defenseman.

Kaplan then names DeBrusk as Boston’s breakout candidate.

“The 2015 first-round pick has been a streaky scorer throughout his career, but he’s due to pick up more offensive production in 2020-21,” Kaplan wrote. “Unfortunately, a shortened season will keep him from hitting his first 30-goal campaign.”

The Bruins signed DeBrusk to a two-year contract extension in November. If he lives up the billing Kaplan gives him, the Bruins should expect plenty of scoring punch from DeBrusk and his cohorts on the second line.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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