Raise your hand if you had Alex DeBrincat being ranked second on the team in points and goals by December 1.
Put your hand down, you liar.
The Blackhawks rookie sensation has exceeded expectations, emerging as one of the team’s top scoring threats during an incredible stretch of play in November.
It didn’t start that way for DeBrincat, though. He appeared in 12 games in October, scoring just once and adding four assists while struggling to find his footing at the NHL level.
Then, November happened.
The 19-year-old played in 13 games, scoring 10 goals and adding four assists, while rocketing up the point standings. He now sits fourth among NHL rookies with 19 points this season and his 11 goals ties him for second with Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller — and Keller has played three more games. He’s also one of the Blackhawks top scorers, ranking second in goals and points, all from a winger who turns 20 on December 18.
Those 10 goals he scored? That was a franchise rookie record.
Perhaps the best part about DeBrincat’s hot streak is that at came at a time when the Hawks desperately needed someone to step up. With top players like Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews mired in long slumps, DeBrincat’s torrid pace — along with Artem Anisimov’s glutton of goals — kept Chicago from falling too far in the standings. Those two had 19 of the 41 goals that Chicago scored last month.
Perhaps the most impressive part is that, for a player listed at 5-foot-7, 165 pounds, DeBrincat’s production has come mostly at even strength: he has one goal and three assists on the power play. He’s starting in the offensive zone about 60% of the time, far from the cushiest assignments, and his 53.6 CF% is 2.1% above the team rate. Consider that most of this hot streak came while paired against an ice-cold Ryan Hartman and an equally scoring allergic Patrick Sharp, and it’s a wonder he was able to produce at that rate.
With DeBrincat clearly proving his NHL worthiness, the question will now be where he ends up in the Blackhawks lineup. It feels like his skills aren’t quite being maximized while skating with Sharp and Hartman. Could be find himself on a wing opposite Patrick Kane? Could he join up with Saad and Toews on the top line?
No matter what happens, the Hawks have a new, young offensive weapon. One they’ll need to pursue a Stanley Cup Playoff run that goes beyond the first round.