Blackhawks prospect Alex DeBrincat named OHL’s top player
The Blackhawks scored only three goals while getting swept by the Nashville Predators in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. But help might be on the way in Alex DeBrincat.
DeBrincat, the top prospect in the Hawks’ system, won the Red Tilson Trophy on Friday as the Ontario Hockey League’s most outstanding player after lighting up the famously high-scoring league for 65 goals and 62 assists in 63 games. For a bit of perspective, that’s three goals more than Patrick Kane scored in his one season in the OHL.
DeBrincat, 19, is the first Hawks prospect to win the award since Stan Mikita after the 1958-59 season. DeBrincat’s former Erie Otters linemate Connor McDavid won the award in 2015.
‘‘It’s pretty incredible,’’ DeBrincat said. ‘‘It’s kind of cool to join that name and many other names. All those great players, it’s definitely an honor. It’s kind of hard to put into words.’’
The diminutive DeBrincat — he’s listed at 5-7, 170 pounds — was the Hawks’ second-round pick in the 2016 NHL draft. He had 51 goals and more than 100 points in each of his previous two seasons with the Otters and was the OHL and Canadian Hockey League’s rookie of the year in 2014-15. The Otters are in the OHL championship series against Mississauga.
‘‘We have a team goal, obviously, to win [this series] and go to the Memorial Cup and hopefully win that,’’ he said. ‘‘This summer, I’ll be able to wrap my head around it a little better. Right now, we’re kind of focused on something else.’’
DeBrincat was listed first on 85 percent of the ballots cast by OHL media and was in the top three on 97 percent of the ballots. He had three five-point games, a 19-game goal streak and a 27-game point streak. His size and strength are still concerns, but he surely will get a long look at training camp and in the preseason in the fall.
‘‘I’m not surprised anymore,’’ Hawks general manager Stan Bowman said earlier in the season. ‘‘When we were watching him last year, following him closely and deciding if we wanted to draft him, you weren’t sure if his first year was the Connor McDavid effect or if he really is this good. Then he did it again.
‘‘I think he has elite talent, and that’s what’s allowed him to do that. Alex is not that far from being an NHL player. The biggest thing for him is the strength and physicality. That’s going to be a big step up from the league he’s at right now.’’
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