Alex DeBrincat became a part of OHL history on February 20, 2017. In the Erie Otters’ game against the Oshawa Generals, DeBrincat scored twice to become the first player in 40 years to score 50 goals in three consecutive seasons. And with 107 points in 51 games—14 higher than the nearest comer—the league scoring title is all but his.
Underestimated and Overlooked
DeBrincat arrived in Erie as an undrafted free agent in 2014. At 5-foot-7, most players in the league could have eaten their lunch off the top of his helmet if they wanted to. He joined linemate Connor McDavid to form one of the most formidable duos in junior hockey—and he scored 10 points in his first five games.
He hasn’t slowed down since.
DeBrincat was instant fire, but many reasoned his success by pointing to talented linemates like McDavid and Dylan Strome, and he went unnoticed by pundits and followers during much of his first season. However, the numbers don’t support that view. Since McDavid has moved on and Strome has been absent for large periods of time, DeBrincat has produced at a slightly higher pace than he did with them.
Scoring Goals Without McDavid and Strome
At the beginning of the 2015-16 season, McDavid had moved on to the Oilers and Strome was in Arizona for training camp. In the first three games of the season, DeBrincat scored seven points in three games before Strome returned on October 4th. Notably, DeBrincat unloaded on Niagara for five goals in one of them. He went on to score 101 points, three fewer than the year before but at a higher PPG clip (he missed eight games to join Team USA at the World Junior Championships).
The numbers are even more convincing this season. Strome started the year with Arizona, and didn’t join Erie until November 20th. During that time, DeBrincat racked up 41 points in 20 games. He also registered 4.7 shots per game. Since then, his shots have decreased to 4.35 per game on a line with Strome.
Of course, stats don’t tell the whole story, but it’s clear that DeBrincat doesn’t need elite NHL prospects on his line to produce—he just needs the puck on his stick for the brief millisecond or two it takes him to get that wonderful shot of his off.
A Place in OHL History
DeBrincat’s exploits are more exceptional when you look at other players on the OHL’s all-time goal leaders list. Most guys in the top 20 had at least four seasons under their belt, and if DeBrincat were to play one more season, he could very well finish his junior career as the highest scorer in league history. John Tavares (2005-2009) has the current record at 215, while DeBrincat should finish this season with 58-60 for an approximate total of 160 in three seasons.
You’d have to figure that a fourth season would put him at around 220.
As a Chicago Blackhawks prospect, he likely won’t get that chance. With guys like Mitchell Marner having tremendous rookie seasons in the NHL, you have to assume the Blackhawks will try to at least move him up to the AHL. When DeBrincat eventually gets to Chicago, he’ll need look no further than a few lines above him at Patrick Kane for inspiration.Back to Top
1) ISS Hockey Releases May Top 31 Rankings for 2018 NHL Draft
2) 2018 RBC Cup Kicks Off in Chilliwack
3) Ontario Hockey Association Announces 2017-18 Prospects
4) Western Canada Cup No More
5) Meet Matthew Savoie, the NAX Forward Taking the CSSHL by Storm