There’s one prospect who stands above all the others in the Blackhawks’ organization right now, and that’s Alex DeBrincat. All eyes are on the 19-year-old at the prospect tournament in Traverse City, where he’s looking to show off his game and improve his chances of making the NHL roster for the start of the season.
So far, so good.
DeBrincat by all accounts has impressed in his first couple games in Michigan. He’s scored two goals, including the game-winner on Saturday night against the Red Wings. He’s also dished an assist and even got in a fight, which might be ill-advised given his size but serves as a reminder that this is a kid with some serious edge.
Most importantly, DeBrincat’s shot seems to be legit. He can uncork accurate wristers with impressive quickness, which might actually be his standout trait. His compact shot will be hard to stop at the next level, even if he’s going to need a playmaker to help get the puck on his stick in good scoring situations.
Here’s the first goal against the Rangers, where DeBrincat finds the sweet spot through traffic from near the dot:
The game-winner against Detroit is even more impressive, with DeBrincat skating into the offensive zone and firing a perfect shot with speed and a defender in his face. You can see how he scored so many goals in the OHL given the combination of quick release and accuracy.
And here’s the fight against Red Wings prospect Dylan Sadowy, who had a bit of a size advantage at 6’1 and 181 pounds. DeBrincat’s willingness to go at it shows he won’t let bigger players simply push him around at the next level, but he should probably reconsider doing this in real games given the risk of getting hurt. Just because he has the tenacity for fisticuffs doesn’t mean it’s worth potentially losing his goal-scoring to injury.
The comments from sources and scouts in The Athletic are all positive, including from new Rockford coach Jeremy Colliton. There’s a good chance that they’ll be together to open the season unless DeBrincat can crack the opening day roster, which seems like a long shot.
“He’s been good,” Colliton said. “He’s showing he can make plays at this level, create space for himself and be a guy who makes a difference, so that’s all you can really ask.”
DeBrincat said he could be even better with fewer mistakes, but this was what you wanted to see from the rookie in Traverse City. His unique shooting ability may translate to the highest levels of hockey even if he’s extremely undersized. None of that will matter if he’s scoring 20-plus goals a year.
Coming off an underwhelming showing at the prospect camp in July, the DeBrincat bandwagon is back in service. We all knew that a bunch of one-on-one drills were never going to the best place for someone who’s 5’7 and doesn’t have elite speed. The things that make DeBrincat special are his relentlessness, knack for the puck, and, most importantly, his shooting skill.
It may be some time before we see DeBrincat in Chicago given the presence of so many older wingers on the roster already, but there are a lot of reasons to believe he’s the real deal.