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Top 10 Blackhawks stories of 2018: Alex DeBrincat is rising star at No. 9

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The 2016 second-round draft pick continues to build off his rookie season.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Each day for the rest of the year, Second City Hockey will countdown the top 10 Blackhawks stories of 2018.

Alex DeBrincat lit up the OHL with goals, but many people didn’t think his skills would translate to the NHL level based on his size (5-foot-7, 165 pounds). In his rookie season, he proved everyone wrong by scoring 52 points and leading the Blackhawks in goals scored at 28. And now, he’s showing there’s no sign of a sophomore slump anywhere as he’s tallied 17 goals and 31 points in only 39 games. That’s a pace of 65 points for this season.

DeBrincat scored 18 of his 52 points in 2017 before tallying 34 points (15 goals, 19 assists) to end his rookie season. He tallied his first career NHL hat trick Nov. 27, 2017, against the Ducks at home, then added two more in 2018 against two of Chicago’s most hated rivals — Detroit and St. Louis.

DeBrincat is tied with Patrick Kane for the team lead in goals at 17 and is third in points with 31. Since Thanksgiving, he has gobbled up points at will with eight goals and seven assists in 17 games.

DeBrincat has played in various spots in the top-six before head coach Jeremy Colliton shifted him down to the third line alongside Dylan Sikura and center David Kampf. DeBrincat has scored in all three games since the move to the ADD line. It’s still early, but this hyper active line looks like a good fit for DeBrincat and balances out the forward lines too. And if it needs to broken up, DeBrincat can slide into a line with his former OHL teammate Dylan Strome.

Off the ice

Hockey players are team orientated and aren’t as individually minded as professional athletes in other sports. NHL stars aren’t always engaging on social media, and every now and again there will be an occasional tweet to congratulate a teammate or friend on a career milestone or help push something for the organization. But this April, DeBrincat diverted from that path when he started an Instagram account (@ralph_debrindog) for his Shiba Inu named Ralph.

After 22 posts in the offseason, DeBrincat has cooled down with only five during the season. Hopefully, he doesn’t press paws on showing some personality off the ice anytime soon.