After ripping 51 goals as an OHL rookie in 2014-15, Alex DeBrincat is proving early in his sophomore season that his scoring ability a year ago wasn't just a result of playing with No. 1 overall NHL draft pick Connor McDavid.
Through eight games this season, the Detroit, Mich. native has 13 goals – tops in the league. Already, the Erie Otters right winger has enjoyed a five-goal game and a four-goal game. Strictly in terms of goal scoring, he's currently out-pacing everyone in major junior hockey.
Of course, he's not the only guy lighting the lamp early in the season. Like DeBrincat, Michael Carcone of the Drummondville Voltigeurs and Tyler Wong of the Lethbridge Hurricanes lead their respective junior leagues in goals at the time of this post. But what makes DeBrincat's early total more impressive is that he's just 17 years old and eligible for the NHL draft for the first time in 2016. Both Carcone and Wong are veteran 19-year-olds.
Despite being the only 2016 draft-eligible prospect to score 50 goals in major junior hockey in 2014-15 and his hot start to this season, DeBrincat remains outside the upper echelon of top prospects on many scouting lists for the upcoming draft, likely due to his 5-foot-7 frame. While NHL Central Scouting's September 'Players to Watch' list gave him an 'A' rating, indicating that he's a first-round candidate, TSN's Craig Button excluded him from his list of 41 top prospects in his September ranking, TSN's Bob McKenzie didn't have him in his pre-season ranking and The Hockey News' Future Watch 2015 left him off its projected top 10 for the 2016 draft. However, Sportsnet's Damien Cox listed DeBrincat 20th in a top-30 list released this past week, so DeBrincat's early success may be starting to gain him 'elite' recognition.
And DeBrincat doesn't just have a knack for finding the back of the net – he does it with alarming consistency. His longest goal-scoring dry spell in 2014-15 was four games.
After a 50-goal season sharing ice with two of the top 2015 draft prospects in McDavid and No. 3 pick Dylan Strome, DeBrincat proved in his recent five-goal game that last season was no fluke. With Strome since returned to junior by the Arizona Coyotes, another elite talent back in the lineup should help keep DeBrincat going strong leading up to the draft.