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Every Wednesday throughout the offseason, the CHGO Blackhawks crew will give their evaluations of the 2021-22 Blackhawks. We’ll be using our “feather system.” Four feathers = an A, three feathers = a B, and so on.
This week, we’re reviewing the seasons of forward Alex DeBrincat and defenseman Calvin de Haan.
Alex DeBrincat Analysis
Jay Zawaski: To me, there are only two Blackhawks players worthy of the four feather rating, and one of them is Alex DeBrincat. You can probably guess the other one, but I won’t officially spoil it just yet. We’ve seen DeBrincat’s evolution from one-dimensional sniper to all-around awesome hockey player. Not only has his game improved in all three zones, but he’s emerged as one of the team’s biggest leaders. If the Blackhawks aren’t blown away by a trade offer for DeBrincat and he stays in Chicago long term, I’d expect him to be the next Blackhawks captain. He’s ready to lead, and he’s ready to be the face of this organization.
Mario Tirabassi: One of two players in this year’s team that will earn all four feathers, Alex DeBrincat was an elite superstar for the Blackhawks this season. Again. He earned his first career All-Star nod and it was well deserved. His evolution as a player has been great to see over the years, and this season he once again proved he is much more than a one dimensional goal scorer. If he is part of the long term plans in Chicago, great. If he is not, he’ll be missed incredibly and there will be lots of goals to replace for the Blackhawks.
Greg Boysen: We all expected DeBrincat to be a superstar this past season, which is precisely what he was. He tied a career-high with 41 goals while setting new high water marks with 37 goals, 14 power-play goals, 37 assists, 78 points, and 270 shots. He put the narrative that he is just a one-dimensional goal scorer to bed with his assist totals and is overall play without the puck. While a Selke Trophy is not in his future, DeBrincat’s work in the defensive zone has improved. He has shown leadership qualities that should lead to a letter on his sweater if he is in Chicago for the long term. He will be the face of the franchise if he is locked up to a long-term contract.
Calvin de Haan Analysis
Jay: Calvin de Haan gave the Blackhawks exactly what the Blackhawks expected Calvin de Haan to give them. Steady, if unspectacular defense, blocked shots, finished checks, and leadership on and off the ice. Every NHL team has a spot for a player like de Haan, which is why it was a bit surprising GM Kyle Davidson didn’t move him at the deadline. Maybe Davidson set a price and didn’t budge. Maybe de Haan was more hurt than we knew (he was shut down at the end of the season) and didn’t want to become a GM known for trading damaged goods. Whatever the situation was, it’s likely de Haan’s days in Chicago are numbered. When the Blackhawks are ready to win again, they’ll be looking to add a de Haan type to bolster their defense. I’m very interested to see where he ends up next season.
Mario: Based on what Calvin de Haan was supposed to be for the Blackhawks this season, he received three feathers from me. He played through injury later in the year and was still one of the most physical players the tram had. He broke his one goal per season streak and that made his season worthwhile. Not moving him at the trade deadline was a missed opportunity for Chicago, but maybe the injuries he played through were a factor in not making the deal. He’ll likely not return, but he’ll be missed.
Greg: By basing this grade on my expectations for the veteran defenseman and what we actually got, de Haan is getting fairly high marks. He performed at the level you wanted to see for much of the season. He was a veteran leader both on and off the ice. He led the team with 172 blocked shots and was second with 146 hits. De Hann brought a physical style of play and a steady defensive presence. Being a veteran, he had to play up and down the lineup with various partners and did his best in a less-than-ideal situation. De Haan will likely be playing for a different team next fall, and his presence will be missed in the Blackhawks’ locker room.
Stay tuned to the CHGO Blackhawks Podcast for more player evaluations as the offseason grinds on.
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