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Rebuild Report: Hit or Miss? The 2016 DeBrincat Draft

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The Chicago Blackhawks 2016 Draft netted them a star in Alex DeBrincat. It would remain possibly their best job in the draft for the rest of Stan Bowman’s tenure.

Chicago Hockey Now continues the Rebuild Report series with the 2016 Draft, looking at how the foundation was either helped or hampered by the lack of draft choices making it to the big club.

To set the stage, the graph below comes from the well written Dobber Prospects piece  that focuses on the success of draft picks by round in the draft.  This is where our story starts.

Photo from Dobber Prospects – 5/16/20 article by Jokke Nevalainen

Chicago Blackhawks 2016 Draft Primer

The Blackhawks gave up their first round pick for a second go around of Andrew Ladd, which didn’t exactly turn out how they envisioned. But in one of Stan Bowman’s best draft picks of his tenure, he hit an absolute home run with his first pick in the second round.

39th overall pick (2nd round) – Alex DeBrincat (RW)
Hit or Miss? Massive Hit

Maybe you’ve heard of him? It would be Bowman’s finest pick in not only this draft, but likely the final six years of his managerial career with Chicago. Passed on by several teams because he was seen as a benefactor of Connor McDavid with Erie, some teams also sneered at his shorter stature. It didn’t scare off Chicago. DeBrincat recorded two 41-goal seasons and enjoyed some great offensive output. Davidson dealt him to Ottawa at last year’s draft, officially signaling the full on rebuild.

45th overall pick (2nd round) – Chad Krys (D)
Hit or Miss? Miss

Chicago had three second round picks and they would only hit on DeBrincat but Krys would at least stick around with the organization for a chunk of time. He spent four seasons with the IceHogs before he was traded to Toronto in 2021-22. Krys played in the Austrian league this past season.

50th overall pick (2nd round) – Artur Kayumov (LW)
Hit or Miss? Miss

Kayumov never left the KHL. His numbers have been good in the Russian league, but he was never an option in Chicago. A huge miss.

83rd overall pick (3rd round) – Wouter Peeters (G)
Hit or Miss? Miss

Peeters never made it past the EIHL, and that was in 2019-20.

110th overall pick (4th round) – Lucas Carlsson (D)
Hit or Miss? Somewhere in the middle

The good news? Carlsson made it to the Blackhawks. The bad news is he ended up in Florida and is now in their AHL affiliate, putting up 54 points in 61 games, 20 finding the back of the net. With 60 games in the NHL, Carlsson got close to that 99 game marker, but unfortunately, it didn’t do much to help the Blackhawks. But his trade did net Chicago some players they would use later, like Riley Stillman. He was flipped to Vancouver for Jason Dickinson, who had a career year with Chicago in 2023. So yes, the Carlsson pick did hold some value.

But it’s still not enough to be considered a “hit.”

113th overall pick (4th round) – Nathan Noel (C)
Hit or Miss? Miss

Noel played 71 games with Rockford, but has most recently been in the ECHL with the Newfoundland Growlers where he had three points in 27 games.

143rd overall pick (5th round) – Mathias From (LW)
Hit or Miss? Miss

From never made it to North America, instead playing in Sweden, Germany, and Denmark.

173rd overall pick (6th round) – Blake Hillman (D)
Hit or Miss? Miss

Hillman’s only NHL goal came in his four-game stint with Chicago back in 2017-18. From there, he spent a season with Rockford before bouncing between the AHL and ECHL. He finished last season with the Hartford Wolf Pack, the New York Rangers’ affiliate.

203rd overall pick (7th round) – Jake Ryczek (D)
Hit or Miss? Miss

Ryczek made it three games in the AHL and primarily in the ECHL. He spent last season in the Slovak League.

2016 Draft By The Numbers and Final Thoughts

  • Hit Percentage (out of 9 picks with at least 99 NHL games): 11%
  • Number of total NHL games played with Chicago: 368 (DeBrincat); 18 (Carlsson); 4 (Hillman)
  • Number of total NHL games excluding Chicago: 82 (DeBrincat); 42 (Carlsson)
  • Total Cumulative NHL games: 514

DeBrincat is clearly the lionshare of games played here but it’s already a better showing than 2015 by a long shot. Bowman hit gold with DeBrincat, and Davidson used that gold to potentially get dividends out the initial investment. Carlsson didn’t have a spot to fit in but still at least has 60 games to his name, which as a fourth round pick is good in and of itself. Hillman got a cup of coffee but little else.

From a view of where they picked, this was the most impressive of Bowman’s post 2015 drafts. Once 2017 is out of the way, the Blackhawks would creeper higher on the draft board and with it, get more NHL caliber players. But as we near that, it’ll be obvious that despite having that talent, Bowman and company couldn’t figure out how to properly develop or build around it.

Previous Rebuild Report Draft Pick Series: 2015 Draft – Swing and a Miss

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