Alex DeBrincat’s current focus is to claim the trophy that’s eluded he and his Erie Otters teammates the past two seasons, the J. Ross Robertson Cup that’s earned by the Ontario Hockey League champion.
But as he pursues a team trophy, DeBrincat claimed an individual one.
DeBrincat won the Red Tilson Trophy, awarded to the OHL’s most outstanding player of the year, on Friday morning. The Blackhawks prospect set OHL highs in goals (65) and points (127) for the Otters, who are currently playing for the league championship.
The Red Tilson Trophy is voted on by writers and broadcasters who cover the OHL. DeBrincat garnered 85 percent of the first-place votes (314 points). DeBrincat is the first Blackhawks prospect to win the Red Tilson Trophy since Stan Mikita did it in 1958-59.
DeBrincat and the Otters are currently facing the Mississauga Generals for the OHL championship. The Otters took Game 1 on Thursday; Game 2 is Sunday. As for what next season holds for him with the Blackhawks, DeBrincat said he’s not sure yet.
“We haven’t had too much contact, but the contact we have had, I need to get bigger and stronger and I think they like the way I’m playing right now,” DeBrincat said of his contact with the Blackhawks’ brass. “In regard to next year, don’t think we’ve gone over that. They don’t know what they’re going to do with me, either. I have to have a big summer and get stronger and be able to play that pro game. Those are the things I need to do.”
For DeBrincat, offense hasn’t been a problem in his time with the Otters. He’s had three straight 50-plus goal and 100-plus point seasons. This season he had goals in 19 consecutive games and finished the regular season with a 27-game point streak. But DeBrincat said he has made strides in another area.
“My defensive game has come a long way. My plus-minus has been a lot better than last year,” said DeBrincat, who finished a plus-60. He was a plus-18 the previous season. “Defense is a big part of the game. If you have a good defense, you’ll be able to go on the offense. That was a big step and in the program you need to have that to win games. I think that’s the biggest thing I tried to get better at.”
DeBrincat has earned some tremendous accolades in an OHL career that isn’t over yet. He’ll be taking the next step at some point soon, and when he does he’s confident he’ll be successful there, too.
“I’ve always believed in myself,” said DeBrincat. “My (5-foot-7) height’s not a problem, but some people doubt me because of my height. I always believed in myself. It was probably minor midgets that I figured I could do something with hockey and make it a career more than just a hobby. I think that’s kind of brought me to where I am today. If I doubted myself, I probably wouldn’t be in this position.”