Canucks just miss out on Jake Guentzel but sign excellent 'consolation' prize

After coming close to signing Jake Guentzel, the Canucks instead went for Jake DeBrusk, who is a talented -- if inconsistent -- top-six player himself.
Florida Panthers v Boston Bruins - Game Six
Florida Panthers v Boston Bruins - Game Six / Rich Gagnon/GettyImages

Jake Guentzel was the prime target for general manager Patrik Allvin, in the attempt to make good on his vow to find a significant upgrade at the winger position. Unfortunately for the Vancouver Canucks though, this was also the mindset of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning traded for Guentzel the day before free agency began, to acquire his rights. However, it seems that the Canucks were still in with a genuine chance of persuading him to move to Vancouver up until the last moment.

As per Ben Kuzma of The Province, Allvin said the Cancuks were really close to signing Guentzel. However, they ultimately couldn't compete with Florida's no-tax advantage.

Canucks turn to DeBrusk

As a result Allvin had to pivot elsewhere, although you imagine the organisation always had alternative targets on their radar. Eventually, the Canucks focused in on Jake DeBrusk.

As announced by the team, DeBrusk has agreed terms on a seven-year deal for $38.5 million, which works out to an annual average of $5.5 million. As per TSN's Ryan Rishaug, there is a no-move clause for the first three years of the contract, before converting to a 15-team no-trade clause the rest of the way.

Allvin shared his thoughts on the signing via a press release. He said: "Jake will be a great addition to our top six and gives us another offensive option up front. He is a smart two-way player who plays with pace. He isn’t afraid to go to the tough areas of the ice and uses his strong motor and determination to drive play."

Certainly DeBrusk is an intriguing addition for the Canucks, although let's be honest in acknowledging he is a consolation prize when compared to Guentzel. The question is, away from the PR aspect of the signing, what exactly does the player offer to the team?

Positives versus negatives

From a talent perspective, the 27-year-old brings a lot to the table. He's good on the puck, has speed, and is dangerous in front of the opposing net.

What people really like about DeBrusk though, is his attitude and passion for the basic elements needed to be a good hockey player. He's hard-working, tough, and has no problem getting stuck in, which helps make him an excellent two-way player.

The only negatives against the 2015 14th overall draft pick as such, are his off-puck play and inconsistency. However, the reality is that he has improved in both of these areas during his NHL career, particularly during these past three seasons.

Higher productivity

In this respect, the season before this one saw DeBrusk truly display what he's capable of. He set a whole host of career bests, including 27 goals, 50 total points and a +26 rating, as well as a 62.4 Corsi For % and 62.2 Fenwick For % in All Situations.

The 2023-24 season showed the Edmonton, Albert native's ability to also lead the way, with him being tops among all Boston Bruins players with 11 points during the playoffs. In general his extensive postseason experience should help the Cancucks, with 86 playoff appearances in total.

For his part, DeBrusk can't wait to get going. Speaking on a zoom call, as per Kuzma, he said: "I’ve been overwhelmed and I can’t wait to get to the city and I feel very honoured. I like the way they play. Hard to play against and that gives me confidence with the system and the biggest thing is to see the centres they have. It’s a great opportunity for me. Lots of punch there."

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In respect of any concern about DeBrusk's penchant for inconsistency, this will either come to a head or be put to bed once and for all in Vancouver. He's averaged 15:47 of ice time during his seven seasons in the NHL, and this average will undoubtedly go up as a result of being a regular in the top-six with the Canucks.

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