Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat

Jeff Curry/USA Today Sports

Zawaski: A Star Is Born In Alex DeBrincat

The 20-year-old DeBrincat's rise has come sooner than expected.

Jay Zawaski
October 16, 2018 - 3:52 pm

(670 The Score) He’s 20 years old. In 87 career games, he’s scored 34 goals, including netting three hat tricks. He reached 30 goals in 85 games, a faster pace than the likes of Jonathan Toews (88 games) and Patrick Kane (100 games).

Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat is a bona fide NHL star, and it’s happened faster than most would've predicted. 

DeBrincat has started this season on the top line with Toews and Dominik Kahun, and he and his mates have reaped the rewards. Like DeBrincat, Toews has nine points in five games and looks rejuvenated. Kahun, whose signing barely made a ripple in the hockey world this summer, has four points in five games on the thriving line.

Since our first look at DeBrincat during the preseason a year ago, his offensive prowess was apparent. Before joining the Blackhawks, DeBrincat posted numbers with Erie in the Ontario Hockey League that were mind-blowing -- 332 points in 191 games. That scoring ability made him an instant offensive threat in the NHL. More impressive, though, was his competence in the other two zones.

While DeBrincat will never be lauded for his defensive play like Patrice Bergeron or Anze Kopitar, for a player of his diminutive 5-foot-7, 165-pound stature and offensive pedigree, he’s better than expected. DeBrincat focused on the defensive aspect of his game before debuting with the Blackhawks last season, knowing that if he wanted to play for coach Joel Quenneville, he’d have to be at least competent.   

Now in his second NHL season, he’s making an impact every night. In the Blackhawks' 5-4 overtime win against the Blues on Saturday night, he scored the game-tying and game-winning goals. That performance came on the heels of another two-goal performance the game prior against the Wild. 

Projections can be dangerous, and I hesitate to put this pressure on DeBrincat, but as I mentioned on the Madhouse Podcast, I don’t think it’s a stretch to see him as a close to a point-per-game player in the next two or three years and perennial All-Star. The Blackhawks have identified him as a star as well. He was the featured bobblehead for this year’s training camp festival and has been the face of ad campaigns and promotions around the city.

Looking ahead, it’s clear that Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has prioritized locking DeBrincat up long term. As we tried to make sense of what Bowman was doing this past offseason, he was consistent in stating the importance of keeping DeBrincat (and Nick Schmaltz) in the fold long term. Now as we enjoy his play on a nightly basis, we also wait to see just how much money DeBrincat is going to make himself before that deal is signed.

Jay Zawaski is the executive producer of the Bernstein & McKnight Show on 670 middays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m and a columnist for 670 The Score. He also is the co-host of the Madhouse Chicago Hockey Podcast, which is available on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify or your preferred podcast app. Follow him on Twitter @JayZawaski670.​​​