Bruce paid tribute to his number one striker, who scored 25 goals in all competitions during a memorable first campaign on Wearside.
He told SAFC-TV: "Darren's been the jewel in the crown for me.
"I wanted the transfer to be done earlier. In my experience of the Premier League, the hardest thing is to score a goal.
"Whenever I've seen Benty, he's shown he is capable of doing that. It's not just that, though - he wanted to come here and be Sunderland's centre-forward."