Blackhawks: Getting the most out of Alex DeBrincat in 2020-21
By Shaun Filippelli
Despite the lack of team success in recent seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks have a lot to covet with this current roster and Alex DeBrincat is a major part of that.
In his only three-year sample size as an NHL player, Alex DeBrincat has already cemented his spot with this Chicago Blackhawks team. DeBrincat was selected 39th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. This was a particularly strong draft class, with Auston Matthews, Patrick Laine, and Pierre-Luc Dubois being picked first, second, and third respectively.
That doesn’t account for how the Blackhawks got so lucky to be able to draft DeBrincat as late as they did. And he began to contribute immediately and throughout the 2017-18 season, which was his first with the team. He earned 28 goals and 24 assists, for a total of 51 points in his rookie campaign.
Having accumulated 332 points in only 191 games (three seasons) with the Erie Otters, He was quickly proving that success in the juniors can translate into potential with the pros.
The Blackhawks haven’t had the type of success they’ve hoped for as of late, but not all have been a loss. Players like DeBrincat have shown that the spotlight still shines brightly towards the direction this team has ahead of them. There is only room for improvement with how early it still is in his professional career.
As he plays more games, his confidence grows; when he gets on the scoresheet, he lets himself be more creative; playing with skilled teammates, his potential seems limitless. Analytics is not necessary to prove any of it, all you need to do is watch him.
It would be difficult to imagine anyone not succeeding alongside Patrick Kane. He is an undisputed superstar, in this league and around the world, and it would be unjustifiable to suggest that many others align with his accolades.
However, if any parallels can be pulled from this current roster, it’s hard to ignore the similarities between DeBrincat and Kane let alone the magic they continue to display together. They’re both fast, creative, agile, competitive, and precise with the puck. They are dangerous opponents to play against.
This is not a claim that DeBrincat has earned a comparison to Kane just yet. But it would be naive to not at least notice the similarities in their styles of play. Perhaps one day, DeBrincat will have brought the same type of success to this city and be able to have his name more directly aligned with his acclaimed teammate. For now, he continues to impress with his progress and that’s a welcomed sight for fans and the organization, alike.
With the acquisition of Dylan Strome in November 2018, it wasn’t immediately clear how his addition to Chicago’s locker room would translate. Strome hadn’t yet met expectations, after being a third overall pick from the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (behind only Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, respectively).
In fact, of the top 10 picks in that draft, with later picks including players like Mitch Marner, Timo Meier, and Mikko Rantanen, Strome was beginning to look like a bust for the Arizona Coyotes. That team began to treat him like a part-time player, as he split shared duties with the Otters in 2016-17 and then the Tuscon Roadrunners throughout the 2017-18 season. Joining the Blackhawks cleared the landscape for his career, as it began to look a lot more fruitful than it once seemed after the move.
The chemistry between Strome and DeBrincat was impossible to ignore. Having already enjoyed success together, playing in Erie for three seasons, and winning the 2017 OHL Championship, it was far from surprising to witness. They continue to push their personal potential, now playing alongside each other in the Blackhawks organization. And if their off-ice camaraderie is any indication of what they can accomplish on it, then the team has positioned itself in an even better spot than anyone could have imagined.
Simply stated, Alex DeBrincat has quickly made a name for himself as a rising star in the Chicago Blackhawks organization. He’s looked to when production is needed and he rarely disappoints. He continues to show positive progress playing in this league and his numbers indicate that he will keep trending in the right direction. He’s only getting better.
When you have a talented player like DeBrincat in your lineup, it’s easy to deploy his skillset. He can play with anyone on this team – his stat sheet will illustrate that. But it’s important to let him build cohesion with players he can benefit from the most, while helping complement his teammates all the while. Chicago needs to create opportunities for him to play with Kane and Strome as much as possible. The team’s play will elevate and improve. Success is contagious and if the Blackhawks put DeBrincat in the right position to allow him to achieve his, they’ll be all the better for it.