DeBrincat signs three-year bridge deal with Blackhawks

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The Chicago Blackhawks won’t have to worry about any Alex DeBrincat contract extension drama as the 21-year-old forward inked a three-year, $19.2 million extension on Thursday. The deal carries a $6.4 million average annual value.

“From the beginning, it was apparent they wanted to get the deal done and I think it was a deal that works both for us and for him and rewards him for his performance and it sets us up well for where we’re headed,” said Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman.

According to Pierre LeBrun, the contract pays DeBrincat $5.1 million in the first two years and then jumps to $9 million in the third year. He’ll still be a restricted free agent when the deal expires following the 2022-23 NHL season (the same summer that the contracts of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Duncan Keith expire), so $9 million would be his qualifying offer if another extension isn’t hammered out by then.

DeBrincat had a breakout sophomore season in 2018-19, scoring 42 times and recording 76 points. He clicked playing alongside his former junior teammate Dylan Strome and learned a lot alongside Kane.

“Those are two good players,” DeBrincat told NBC Sports last month. “For me, I’m just trying to find open space when I’m with them. All three of us are pretty creative in the offensive zone. You’ve got one of the best players in Patrick Kane on your line and he’s going to get you the puck and he’s going to control play. That’s definitely a fun line to play with; a lot of offense there.”

His second NHL season built off of a strong rookie campaign that saw him net 28 goals and reach 52 points.

“Experience helps a lot,” he said. “For me, it was just coming in feeling more comfortable with everything. It’s hard to be on a new team and meet a bunch of new guys so, first year is a little bit different and coming back it was a lot easier.”

DeBrincat is a huge piece of the Blackhawks’ future and while the team was encouraged by their second half under Jeremy Colliton last season, they’re in a tough Central Division where points will be tough to come by. There’s still some roster reshaping for Bowman to do over the next several years to navigate the salary cap in order to get younger, but this is a good start and the young star is a great building block to move forward with.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.