Alex DeBrincat – Erie Otters – Player Profile

Height: 5’7”

Weight: 160 pounds

Date of Birth: December 18, 1997 – Detroit, Michigan

Position: Right Wing

Shoots: Right

OHL Draft: Undrafted, signed as a free agent.

First there was the Little Engine That Could: “I think I can, I think I can.”

Then, there is Alex DeBrincat: “I know I can, I know I can.”

Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

The twice undrafted DeBrincat signed on with the Otters as a free agent after scoring 54 goals and adding 57 assists in just 50 games for Lake Forest Academy. He took the Ontario Hockey League by storm in his rookie season scoring 51 times to go along with 53 assists while playing in all 68 games. His goals were almost twice as many as his closest rookie rival while his points exceeded twice as many (Zachary Senyshyn: 26 goals, 45 points) en route to winning OHL and CHL rookie of the year.

Throughout last season I heard it many times: “anyone can score playing with McDavid” or “I could score playing with McDavid.”

While playing with a world class player like McDavid would benefit anyone, just how much did it? There are no OHL stats that indicate how much DeBrincat played with McDavid or OHL scoring leader Dylan Strome for that matter. So let’s look at it like this:

DeBrincat averaged .75 goals per game and .78 assists per game through his 68 games. In the 21 games that McDavid missed with injury and the World Junior Championships DeBrincat averaged .52 goals per game and 1.00 assist per game. With McDavid in the lineup terrorizing defences and opening up space, he averaged .85 goals per game and .68 assists per game.

His points per game with McDavid in the lineup stood at 1.53 points per game while without McDavid he averaged 1.52 points per game. Anatomize those numbers and you should come to a legitimate conclusion.

While there are no statistics available for last season of McDavid playing without DeBrincat in the lineup, one can come to a reasonable inference that as much as McDavid made DeBrincat a better goal scorer, DeBrincat made McDavid a better set up man.

There are however, some advanced stats available from CHL Stats

DeBrincat stats

There is no doubt DeBrincat is relishing (and succeeding) in a larger role this season. Early on he’s averaging 28:21 of even strength ice time, up from 23:32 in even strength ice time as a rookie. I’m not suggesting he can continue his pace of 10 goals and 13 points in his first five games, but will suggest he’ll be right up there with the leaders by game 68. He’s already had two dominant performances in a 5 goal game and a 4 goal game.

There is no denying DeBrincat is very undersized. But he has superb speed to overtake guys one on one and is excellent at “hiding” and moving into the scoring areas at the right time. While his mindset playing with McDavid was that of a shoot first winger, he displayed his playmaking abilities in the latter’s absence. Despite the size issue, he is more than willing to play physical and is not dissuaded from going to the dirty areas.

DeBrincat is also an agitator and creates the impression that he enjoys the chirping game on the ice. He can lure the opposition into taking needless and foolish penalties and then work his magic on the powerplay.

There is no question that discussions about DeBrincat among National Hockey League teams will center on his size. Is he a first round talent? In this viewer’s eyes: absolutely. NHL teams will have to decide whether DeBrincat can be the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Tyler Johnson or the Calgary Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau.

“I know I can, I know I can.”

 And now you know as well.

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