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DeBrincat relishes chance to one day play with Kane

by Mike G. Morreale / Chicago Blackhawks

BUFFALO -- It was a season ago when Erie forward Alexander DeBrincat scored the most points (104) by a rookie in the Ontario Hockey League since Patrick Kane in 2006-07.

DeBrincat was ecstatic to learn Saturday that Kane, the reigning Hart Trophy winner the NHL's most valuable player with the Chicago Blackhawks, might one day be his teammate. The 5-foot-7, 165-pound right wing was the first of three second-round picks made by the Blackhawks in the 2016 NHL Draft at First Niagara Center.

The Blackhawks selected DeBrincat with the 39th pick. He was No. 21 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters eligible for the 2016 draft.

"I definitely like what Kane has to offer; I'm definitely not as skilled as him but he likes to score goals and that's something I do well," DeBrincat said.

DeBrincat has 102 goals and 205 points in 128 OHL games over two seasons with the Otters. He had his second-straight 51-goal season in 2015-16, making him one of three OHL players since 1997-98 with consecutive 50-goal seasons, joining Ottawa's Tyler Toffoli (Los Angeles Kings) in 2010-11 and 2011-12, and Sudbury's Norman Milley in 1998-99 and 1999-2000.

"He's definitely a guy that gives it his heart every game," said Erie teammate Taylor Raddysh, who was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round (No. 58) Saturday. "I don't think size matters for him. He's a guy that'll go into the corner and take on the biggest guy and probably most likely come out with the puck. He's an all-around player and definitely really helps his linemates a lot."

In 2014-15, DeBrincat was named the Canadian Hockey League rookie of the year with 51 goals and 104 points, the most by a rookie in the OHL since Kane had 145 for the London Knights in 2006-07.

He was all smiles when discussing his future.

"I didn't have any idea where I was going to go in the draft," he said. "I was waiting [in the seats] for a while but I'm excited that it's the Blackhawks. It was a long first round. I didn't know if I was going to go or not but I'm really happy now and glad it's over."

DeBrincat, a native of Farmington Hills, Mich., grew up a Detroit Red Wings fan. He officially changed his allegiance Saturday.

"I went to a few games at Joe Louis Arena to see the Blackhawks but I was a Detroit fan then," DeBrincat said. "But not anymore; it's all good though."

DeBrincat has thrived alongside some very special players in his two years with Erie. He played with Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid in 2014-15 and was mostly on a line this season with center Dylan Strome, who was selected by the Arizona Coyotes with the third pick in 2015.

"Watching McDavid and Strome in practice helped my game a lot," DeBrincat said. "You try to pick pieces of their game and use it in your own game. It was pretty remarkable watching both of them and having a chance to play with them."

DeBrincat knows he has to put in the work to one day claim a roster spot with the Blackhawks.

"The next step is improving my all-around game and making the Blackhawks as soon as possible," DeBrincat said. "My goal is to play in the NHL. This is just one step of the way and the work starts now.

"I'm a gritty goal scorer, I like to get around the net to score goals and I don't mind playing the body. As a small guy I have to play a little bigger than I am but that's something I like to do."

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