Alex DeBrincat was the biggest steal of 2016’s entry draft
When the Chicago Blackhawks went into this summer’s NHL Entry Draft, they had a handful of second-round picks due to some crafty trades. The first of those second-round picks was used on Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters with the 39th pick.
DeBrincat has been one of the top prospects in the OHL over the last two years, having put up 205 points (102 goals, 103 assists) in 128 games with the Otters. Putting up back-to-back 51-goal seasons, DeBrincat has had the luxury of playing with both Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome in his time with the Otters, but he has been able to stand out on his own accord due to his ability to see the ice and make the right play when it matters.
His scoring touch around the net is top-notch, and his skating and speed help him get into space to make plays.
DeBrincat was thought to be one of the top prospects heading into the NHL Entry Draft this year, but his size (5-foot-7, 165 pounds) is what turned off most teams to picking him as early as the first round.
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In fact, 25 teams in the league passed on him before the Blackhawks selected him with the ninth pick in the second-round. Many feel that if DeBrincat had a larger frame, he would have been selected at a lottery pick this summer.
Size is DeBrincat’s biggest NHL hurdle
As he makes the transition from the OHL to the professional levels, DeBrincat will have to overcome his lack of size. In an interview at the NHL Scouting Combine, DeBrincat addressed that his speed is going to have to be his biggest attribute in the NHL because of his size.
Watching DeBrincat in action at Blackhawks Prospect Camp this month, one can see that his speed is already at a high level and he knows how to use it to his advantage. When paired with the right players, DeBrincat is able to create his own space on the ice, with and without the puck, and continuously has himself in position around the net.
With the NHL trending more toward successful teams being built around speed and skill, and less around being sizable teams, DeBrincat and the Blackhawks may be the perfect fit. Besides, it wasn’t too long ago that the Blackhawks picked another undersized, dynamic scorer from the OHL (it was Patrick Kane).
One more strong season in the OHL is on the horizon for DeBrincat in 2016-17, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an entry-level deal and make the jump to the AHL and Rockford IceHogs by the time the Otters’ season ends.
He will be one of the next Blackhawks that will be a cornerstone piece to continuing the high level of success the organization has come to expect over the past decade.
Many scouts have likened DeBrincat to Brendan Gallagher of the Montreal Canadiens. A goal scorer who can mix it up around the net and excel in space. If DeBrincat can be paired with the right linemates in Chicago, he could be one of the top players in the NHL in the very near future.