At the start of the season, it remained to be seen if Alex DeBrincat could rise to the standards of the Chicago Blackhawks organization and adjust to the quick pace of the NHL. The winger, who was drafted by the Hawks in 2016, formerly played for the Erie Otters of the OHL and helped lead them to the league championship in May of this year. He showed off a considerable amount of talent by scoring fifty or more goals in three consecutive seasons. However, adjusting to the NHL can be a make it or break it moment, with some rookies taking multiple years to develop in AHL teams before joining the big league. For DeBrincat though, the process has been quick and he has started to play a big role on his team.
DeBrincat notched his first career goal against the Montreal Canadiens on October 10th, 2017. Late in the first period of the game, he received a pass from Patrick Sharp and slapped it past Carey Price. It tied the score up for the Hawks, who eventually went on to win the game three to one. Since that first goal, DeBrincat has gone on to pick up six goals and five assists. He is tied for second on the team in terms of goals, matching veteran Patrick Kane and slipping only one goal short of team leader, Brandon Saad. He also places second on the team in terms of points, tied with captain Jonathan Toews and six points below Kane.
Three of DeBrincat’s goals have come in the past two games and they have been big momentum boosters for the Hawks. Unfortunately, the Hawks ended up falling tonight to the New Jersey Devils, who stormed back to take the win, despite the Hawks earning a two-goal lead in the first period. DeBrincat’s performance in last night’s game against the Hurricanes, however, helped them earn the win.
Chicago dug themselves a deep hole in the first period of the game, allowing the Canes to scoring two goals. DeBrincat closed part of the gap with the first goal of the game for the Hawks in the second period, but the team allowed Brock McGinn to score his second goal of the game and the Canes again led by two. Early in the third period, DeBrincat tallied another goal, and Gustav Firstling followed his lead with a goal of his own, tying the score up and sending things into overtime. Early in overtime, Brandon Saad was able to score the game winning goal, all thanks to DeBrincat. He drew two Canes players towards him and sent a beautiful pass to Saad, who then slipped it past goaltender Scott Darling. The three points that DeBrincat notched earned him a career high and showed that he has clearly found his spot in the NHL.
DeBrincat has also shown that he can play among a variety of players. With Coach Joel Quenneville frequently switching up the lines in an effort to find some winning combinations, DeBrincat has still brought his best effort forth and adjusted to his linemates. Given that he has both speed and great hands, he is an asset to any line, so having him on the team provides the coaches with some flexibility to work with.
If DeBrincat can continue bringing this level of play, it will be a huge boost for the Blackhawks. They’ve been struggling through the past few weeks, going 8-8-2 since the beginning of the season. Despite being a rookie, DeBrincat has shown that he has great stick handling abilities and that no team should underestimate him just because of his size. Hopefully the rest of the team can follow his lead and put up some offensive efforts to help bring in the wins.