Do you ever catch yourself? Maybe you’re sitting at dinner with a friend your significant other, talking about the news or whatever, and you have to stop a moment. A wide, ill-intentioned grin spreads across your face. You must look crazy. You start cackling like a maniac. You can’t stop laughing like you’re the fucking Joker. Your friend looks at you with deep concern in their eyes. People around you are staring. It’s uncomfortable for everyone. But you can’t help it. It’s just too hilarious to believe (You signed up for that look when you decided to write here – ED).
You just remembered that the Blackhawks got Alex DeBrincat in the second round.
Does that ever happen to you? Cuz, same. Now please come tell these cops I’m normal and bail me out of jail.
82 GP – 41 G – 35 A – 76 P
49.68CF% (0.48 CF% Rel), 59.75 oZS%
53.66 GF% (5.71 GF% Rel), 46.47 xGF% (0.93 xGF% Rel)
17:42 Avg. TOI
A Brief History: DeBrincat showed that his 2017-18 season was no fluke last year, building upon that and then going above and beyond the production. He became a nightmare for opposing penalty killers under Coach Cool Youth Pastor, posting 24 points (13G, 11A) with the extra man. You may be thinking that kind of PP success is artificially inflating his overall numbers, but as I detailed back in April during player reviews, that’s a pretty normal rate for elite scorers. Believe it or not, good offensive players score on the power play. This is news to Joel Quenneville.
DeBrincat also got something of a personal and personnel favor (folks, you get this kinda wordsmithing for just $3.99 a month, and that’s less than half it’s true value) in the form of the Dylan Strome trade. I don’t need to rehash it all, but obviously for Top Cat it must’ve been nice to get a linemate in Strome that A) he was familiar with and B) was not allergic to shooting the puck like Nick Schmaltz was. All of this resulted in Top Cat cementing himself as this team’s third best forward and likely has him positioned for a healthy contract extension this coming season.
It Was The Best of Times: DeBrincat continues to ascend with his offensive abilities, and being able to play with Strome for more of this season helps both of them elevate their games. It’s hard to ask too much more of a guy fresh off a 41-goal season, but DeBrincat is probably capable of pushing that number closer to 45, especially now that the Hawks will have a full season of the Colliton PP system. On top of that, his scoring ability becomes such a threat that defenses have no choice but to focus in on him, opening up the ice for him to use his vision and passing to find others, and he gets his assist total over 40 as well. He ends the seaon with 90+ points and leads the team in scoring, but not until after the Hawks lock him up at 6x$8.5M which will end up feeling like a huge discount.
It Was The BLURST of Times: The Colliton power play turns out to be a mirage, and even Top Cat can’t save it. Even with all the offensive talent the Hawks have, they return to the dark days of the early 2010’s (power play frustration wise, of course) and his production there drops to a meesly 10 points. Meanwhile, his linemates turn out to be huge duds, and he gets dragged down with them. He ends up with a paltry 55 points (oh, the horror!) and that 6x$8.5M extension feels a little expensive suddenly.
Preiction: It’s hard to ask much more from Top Cat than what we’ve gotten from him. He’s already done more than many scouts believed he would in the NHL, but that’s because hockey scouts are egg-brained. I’m somewhat inclined to believe that the Top Cat we saw last year is the Top Cat we will continue to see moving forward, though he’s certainly capable of giving or taking 10 more points. I predict he finishes the year with 43 goals and 40 assists, with something around 30 of the total points coming on the power play. Oh year, and he signs a 6x$8.5M extension. That feels fair, right?