In today’s #AfterAuston session, we’re going to talk about highly debated prospect Alex DeBrincat. For most of the season, DeBrincat was a hot topic among draft enthusiasts. He ranged everywhere from out of the 1st round to top 5, and everyone was assertive that that was where he belonged. Nowadays, the conversation on him has cooled dramatically. The people who stand on either extreme of whether “size matters” have largely shifted their focus to Clayton Keller, an equally small and increasingly exciting prospect.
Where does DeBrincat stand relative to Keller? And what about the rest of the draft class? Why did the opinion on him cool so dramatically?
I’m here to see if I can find answers to those questions.
Qualitative means, “what do you see?” Well, when you look at DeBrincat you see two things. First, you see a guy who’s pretty short. And second, you see a guy who’s really freaking good at hockey.
Alex DeBrincat possesses a sniper’w shot that makes OHL goalies shake in their boots (or, skates, I guess). His skating needs work, and his passing isn’t really a definable strength.
Instead of going to the same wells of quoting Pronman or some other draft analyst, I’ll provide this Shift by Shift video of DeBrincat’s game on 10/9/15 against the Niagara Ice Dogs, where he scored 4 goals and added an assist. Commentary is provided in the video that gives a very good analysis of DeBrincat’s strengths and weaknesses.
There are exactly 5 draft-eligible players in the CHL who had a Primary Points per Game of more than 1. DeBrincat joins Dubois, Tkachuk, Abramov and Gauthier. With Dubois and Tkachuk both hanging around in the top 5 for this draft, that’s some pretty special company. And yet, DeBrincat’s rankings are nowhere near the top 5. Abramov suffers the same problem. What gives?
Here’s the rankings from several scouts/scouting websites:
|Scout/Site||ISS||Damien Cox||Hockey Prospectus||Corey Pronman||DraftBuzz||The Draft Analyst||Future Considerations|
For something to look at, here’s a viz comparison of his stats from Brandon Dennis’ tableau page:
Now, obviously Alex Nylander is a very talented player, but to see how much more of a producer DeBrincat was really shows you why he should be in conversations for high first round picks, despite his size. Wherever you may fall on the “size matters” spectrum, you can’t deny that production does matter. And in this case, there’s a whole lot of it.
A breakdown of his stats by season is shown here from Elite Prospects:
And another thing to look at, here’s his shot map from Prospect-Stats:
This heat map shows you that he gets to the left side of the net, right on the edge of that home plate area, for the majority of his shots. This is part of what leads to his high production, is shots from high-danger areas. It’s also very interesting to see he led the OHL in shots for draft-eligible players, and was 3rd for all players behind Spencer Watson and over-ager Hunter Garlent. This high shot volume combined with his excellent shooting talent will undoubtedly continue to generate production for him in the future. The only real question is, will he generate such production at the NHL level?
FIT WITH THE LEAFS
This is always a tough question to answer, and the shorter a player is the more likely you are to say “no”, it seems. However, I’m very interested in DeBrincat and if the opportunity to draft him
when if he falls appears, it will be something the Leafs certainly consider.
From my perspective, at 30/31, getting a player with that kind of production is simply a chance you don’t pass up. It will be interesting if we can find out where the Leafs see his abilities; whether they choose to pass on him, select him at their picks, or even trade up for him.