Fair or not, Alex DeBrincat drawing comparisons to Patrick Kane

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Alex DeBrincat (front) celebrates with teammates (from left) Ryan Hartman, Tommy Wingels and Lance Bouma (17) after completing his hat trick on Monday. (AP Photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The comparisons are as inevitable as they are unfair. Alex DeBrincat is undersized and scores in bunches, therefore he is already being labeled as a young Patrick Kane, especially in the wake of his hat trick Monday against the Ducks.

If anyone can offer any insight into the validity of the comparison, it is Patrick Sharp, who has been on DeBrincat’s line nearly all season and who was Kane’s linemate back when he first broke into the league as a teenager.

“It’s tough for me to speak on those two players,” he said. “But just from the outside, and being their linemates and teammates, they’re both smaller players. I’m assuming they played with bigger kids their whole lives and adjusted to that. And they’re comfortable out there in all situations. They’re comfortable with the puck on their sticks. And to see the success that both of those guys have had as teenagers is pretty special.”

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Kane won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie in 2007-08. DeBrincat could be forcing his way into the Calder conversation himself. He entered Tuesday’s game against the Predators with 10 goals in 23 games, one off the rookie lead shared by the Coyotes’ Clayton Keller and the Canucks’ Brock Boeser. Nine of those goals have come at even strength, and DeBrincat has been doing it outside the top six, too.

Coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t around for Kane’s rookie season; he took over four games into Kane’s second year. But he sees similarities, too.

“My first year with Kaner, he was a special player as far as the puck being around him and finding it,” Quenneville said. “He’d always make something out of it every time he touched the puck. That way, you can say they’re similar in a lot of ways — with their vision and poise and patience in tight areas, how quick their sticks are, how they can turn nothing into something quickly. There’s not too many guys in the league that have that ability.”

Kane fined

Kane was fined $5,000, the maximum allowable according to the collective-bargaining agreement, for a two-handed slash on the Ducks’ Nick Ritchie in the third period Monday. Ritchie initiated the incident with a slash of his own, but Kane retaliated with a two-handed baseball swing to Ritchie’s backside, which was blocked by Ritchie’s stick.

Ritchie is the Ducks forward who likely ended Michal Rozsival’s career last April with a sucker punch after the whistle. That earned him a two-game suspension. Rozsival has been on long-term injured reserve since, and Quenneville said Monday there has been no change to his status.

Drought watch

Sharp, Nick Schmaltz, Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews all have broken out of lengthy scoring slumps in the last few games. That leaves just Richard Panik as the lone drought holdover from the Hawks’ early November doldrums. Panik entered Tuesday without a goal in 14 games.

With 30 goals in their last seven games (they had 23 in their previous 12), Quenneville is less concerned than he might have been a few weeks ago.

“[Toews’] line hasn’t scored much lately, but they’re dangerous every night,” Quenneville said. “A lot of nights, they end up with a lot of chances and nothing to show for it. It’s a matter of time. … I don’t care who scores the goals, as long as we’re scoring.”

Follow me on Twitter @MarkLazerus.

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

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