Vancouver Canucks 2016 NHL Draft Profile: C Alex DeBrincat

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; A general view of the podium on stage before the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; A general view of the podium on stage before the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks are preparing for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft — and so are we.

Unfortunately, the 2015-16 season was cut short for the Vancouver Canucks, which means we have a long offseason ahead of us. Canucks GM Jim Benning and his staff will use the time to prepare next season’s roster, and the 2016 NHL Entry Draft will certainly play an important part in that process.

Vancouver started off strong in the fall of 2015 but ended the season with a thud. Thanks to their abysmal 28th rank in the league standings, the Canucks own seven picks early in each round. Benning did a great job in his first two years at the job and another successful draft could certainly help boost the rebuild.

Here at The Canuck Way, we will do our best to prepare you for the upcoming event by profiling as many draft-eligible players as we possibly can. Keep in mind that we are not saying these are players the Canucks are targeting. Instead, these are players that we think the Canucks could or should have interest in.

Today we will look at one of the most controversial players in the draft (mostly due to his size), Erie Otters center Alex DeBrincat.

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Name: Alex DeBrincat

Position: Center

Shoots: Right

Height, weight: 5’7”, 161 lbs

Team/League: Erie Otters, OHL

Stats (from 







NHL CSS Ranking: 21st (North American Skaters)

Risk, Reward: 4/5, 4.5/5

NHL-potential: Elite Scorer

Draft Range: Late First to Early Second Round

Scouting report

"DeBrincat is a small player with a dynamic skill set. He is a pure sniper, scoring over 50 goals in two straight years in the OHL. He is very undersized, but can be very nasty to play against and shies away from no one. He had to deal with injuries at the 2016 World Junior Championship, but that did not hamper his production when he returned to the OHL. He skates well and is very effective around the net. He is hard to contain for such a small player, and has great chemistry with anyone he plays with. A decade player in the OHL. (Tyler Parchem, Elite Prospects 2016)"


Alex DeBrincat is one of the most skilled forwards and best snipers in the entire draft. Judging by offensive ability alone, DeBrincat could definitely be a top-three pick.

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The 5-foot-7 center is an outstanding skater with terrific hockey sense. He always finds open passing lanes — or creates them if there are none — and gets into open areas quicker than anyone can follow him. DeBrincat is an extremely accurate passer and shooter and, most importantly, makes the right decisions.

Speaking of shots, Sportsnet’s Stephen Burtch took a look at OHL analytics and which scorers are most likely to translate their scoring to the NHL level. The result: London Knight forward Christian Dvorak’s 52 goals have an NHL equivalent of 18, which is OHL best, but DeBrincat’s 51 tallies have an NHL equivalent of 17 — second in the entire OHL. Only time will tell how accurate those numbers are, but they are a good place to start.

DeBrincat eclipsed the 50-goal and 100-point marks in two straight seasons, confirming his elite offensive abilities.

Furthermore, DeBrincat is extremely creative and has stellar puck-handling skills, allowing him to make highlight-reel plays not many players are capable of.

Lastly, DeBrincat is a fierce competitor who never takes a shift off. He tries his best on the forecheck and backcheck, always skating hard and trying to interrupt the opposing team’s rush. Despite his small frame, he tries to hit as much as he can, no matter if the opponent is his size or 6-foot-7 and 200 pounds.


Players like 5-foot-9 Johnny Gaudreau and 5-foot-8 Tyler Johnson have shown that it is possible to light up the league even when your height is far below average. But how low can you really go and still succeed against huge, punishing NHL defensemen?

DeBrincat is an inch shorter than Johnson and actually looks like he might be closer to 5-foot-6 than 5-foot-7. Size has not been an issue for him on open ice, but he does struggle big-time when he has to engage in puck battles along the boards. He takes hits like they are nothing, which is certainly a good thing, but you won’t see him win too many battles.

Disregarding size, DeBrincat could improve his defensive awareness and positioning. He works hard in all three zones, but hard work is not everything. For an elite scorer like him, that should be a secondary concern, though.

Possibly a real concern, however, are his emotions. DeBrincat is a hard worker who likes to play as gritty as he can, but his emotions can boil over occasionally, as shown in a World Junior match-up with Team Canada, when he was ejected from the game for spearing Travis Konecny. DeBrincat had a weak showing at the World Juniors overall, scoring just one goal and zero points while fellow draftees Auston Matthews and Matthew Tkachuk had 11 each, which is another reason why DeBrincat fell down draft rankings.

Final Thoughts

Alex DeBrincat is the definition of a high-risk, high-reward player. If he is selected in the first round and becomes an 80-point scorer in the NHL, everyone will be happy and excited. If he ends up struggling in the ECHL and making his way over to Europe, people will question why a 5-foot-6 player was selected in the first round.

The Vancouver Canucks might just love him for his spear against Konecny because Brandon Prust is leaving and Vancouver needs someone to spear Brad Marchand in the groin.

Next: Jakob Chychrun 2016 NHL Draft Profile

All jokes aside, if DeBrincat is still available in the second round — which is a big if — the Canucks should definitely take a good look at him. However, a rebuilding team like Vancouver might be better off selecting a high-floor, low-ceiling type like Pascal Laberge (check out his draft profile here!).

Then again, a potential 30-goal scorer (or more) is a very exciting option as well. Your call, Mr. Benning!