Alex DeBrincat has been one of the bright spots in an otherwise dull year for the Blackhawks. Having just played in his 100th game in the NHL, I think it would benefit us all if we took a look at how he’s evolved as a player.
To say DeBrincat tore it up in the OHL would be a laughable understatement. Playing for an Erie Otters team that had Connor McDavid on it probably didn’t hurt either. Except
for the fact that DeBrincat and McDavid only played together for one year. The other two were all successes that DeBrincat had created for himself. In his three seasons playing major junior hockey, DeBrincat played a total of 191 regular season games. He potted 167 goals, hitting 50+ in all three seasons; he would also go on to do more of the same and tally 165 assists, again hitting 50+ in all three seasons. To keep more of the same going, he totaled 332 points over his career which puts him at an astounding 1.74 points per game.
During the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, most people would’ve guessed that DeBrincat would get his name called on the first day, but to the surprise of many this wasn’t the case. Instead DeBrincat would be drafted 39th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks, which everyone would consider the steal of the draft.
DeBrincat’s first season with the Hawks couldn’t have gone any better for him, sticking with the team for the full 82 game season. During his rookie campaign DeBrincat was one of the gleams of hope in an otherwise lackluster year. Being put on a line with Jonathan Toews to try and spark some offense in him showed that coach Joel Quenneville had trust in him. He would go on to score 28 goals, which was good enough to lead the team. Adding 24 assists to that total would be good enough to lift DeBrincat above the 50 point mark and would put him at 2nd in team scoring. He would also average 14:48 minutes of TOI and shoot at a 15.5% while putting up 181 shots on goal.
Despite the season not ending how the club or fans wanted, DeBrincat was still a reason for many to continue watching. He would play his 100th game with the team on November 12th, and would score a goal in the overtime loss to Carolina. So far this season, DeBrincat has played 19 games, putting up 10 goals and 7 assists for 17 points which puts him on pace for 43 goals, 30 assists and 73 points. He’s also averaging 18 minutes of TOI, which is a noticeable upgrade from last season and it shows that the coaches he’s had in Chicago really trust him as an elite player now.
While it’s easy to watch and feel pessimistic about how the Blackhawks are performing, every fan has to admit that it’s just exciting to watch this electric young player spark a fire under Jonathan Toews and his other teammates. While the future of the team doesn’t look as bright as it did, there truly is a beacon of hope coming from the 5’7 forward who finds himself on the top line most nights.