It’s easy to see why Chicago Blackhawks fans are excited about Alex DeBrincat.
The undersized forward already seemed like a potential steal when the Blackhawks drafted him in the second round (39th overall) back in 2016, as he was coming off consecutive 100-point seasons in the OHL. DeBrincat topped that in 2016-17, scoring more than a goal per game (65 in 63) and finishing with a ridiculous 127 points.
Honestly, that last paragraph might leave some Blackhawks fans twitching with excitement.
CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers relays an important message on Thursday, though: tap the brakes.
Beyond the questions of the 19-year-old being ready for the NHL, Myers reasonably wonders if Chicago can fit him into its salary structure.
Looking at the Blackhawks’ listing at Cap Friendly, it’s clear that Myers has a point. There are 14 forwards under contract, and as Myers notes, only Nick Schmaltz can be sent to the AHL without needing to clear waivers.
The Athletic’s Scott Powers notes that few 19-year-olds have made much of a dent on recent Blackhawks rosters beyond Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Nick Leddy. As great as Joel Quenneville can be at integrating younger players into Chicago’s mix, history states that DeBrincat indeed faces an uphill climb.
Then again, for a smaller forward whose numbers sometimes get disregarded or downplayed because of his stature, DeBrincat’s probably used to overcoming odds. If nothing else, the Blackhawks seem willing to go the extra mile if it gives them a better chance to compete.
Even so, Blackhawks fans would probably be wise not to pencil him into the 2017-18 lineup just yet.