Don’t look now, but Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat are both having career-years.
For DeBrincat, this season has already looked like a huge step back in the right direction after a down 2019-20 campaign, when he didn’t come close to replicating his excellent 2018-19 numbers (41 goals and 76 points playing in all 82 games, scoring at a .927 points per game pace).
Across 15 games in 2021, DeBrincat has nine goals and 18 points, which measures out to 1.20 points per game and .60 goals per game. If he were to play all 52 possible games this season, he would finish with 31 goals and 62 points, well above his season totals from last year (18 goals, 45 points).
— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) February 7, 2021
In fact, these scoring paces would put the 23-year-old winger in historic company in Blackhawks franchise history in an 82-game season.
If DeBrincat were able to hold his current paces for goals and points, he would finish an 82-game schedule with 49 goals and 98 points. In Blackhawks franchise history, only three players have scored 49 goals or more in a season. Bobby Hull did it five times, Jeremy Roenick did it twice, and Al Secord did it once in 1982-83. Also in franchise history, only six players have scored 98 points or more in a season, including Larmer, Roenick (3), Hull, Denis Savard (5), Troy Murray, and Patrick Kane (2).
As for Kane, he’s not only leading the Blackhawks, but also ranks among the top-five *in the league* in points to begin the 2021 season.
— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) February 14, 2021
Most players don’t have career-best years at age-32, but Kane isn’t most players.
Like DeBrincat, Kane had a career-best season in 2018-19 (44 goals and 110 points), when he finished with a 1.35 points per game pace over 81 games. Relatedly, his best goal-scoring season came during his MVP campaign in 2015-16, when he potted 46.
This season, Kane isn’t scoring goals at a fiery rate (8 goals so far in 19 games). But if he finished at that pace (0.42 goals per game) he’d end up with 23 goals in this 56-game season. While not setting any personal records, Kane would secure his 14th consecutive 20+ goal season, reaching the mark in every year of his NHL career. Over an 82-game season, that 0.42 goal-scoring pace per game would give Kane 34 on the year, which would tie his third-best goal scoring mark when he had 34 goals in the 2016-17 season.
But even with all of that general positivity aside, Kane’s 26 points through the first 19 games has him at a career-best 1.37 points per game pace. If he were to play all 56 games this season, Kane would finish with 77 points, ranking as the sixth-highest point total in his career. Like DeBrincat, Kane’s pace would place him among highly esteemed company in franchise history if he were to play a full 82-game season, setting his own career-best point total (112 points) while joining Jeremy Roenick and Denis Savard as the only Blackhawks players with three or more seasons scoring over 100 points.
— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) February 20, 2021
This is all well and good, but what will it mean for the Blackhawks this season if the top two players on your team, one of which is going to the Hockey Hall of Fame, are scoring at career-best markers and you cannot make the most of it?
Kane and DeBrincat have been pulling a ton of the weight offensively for Chicago this season and it’s gotten them this far through 19 games. But they are playing on the same line, so where else is the weight-pulling going to come from on a consistent basis? Kubalík and the rookies have been great complimentary pieces, but without Toews, Dach and now Dylan Strome (heading into concussion protocol), the pressure is going to be on Kane and DeBrincat to continue their scoring numbers if the Blackhawks are going to be in the postseason hunt.
You’re also expecting rookie goaltender Kevin Lankinen to continue being one of the top-five goaltenders in the NHL this season too if you’re banking on having Kane and DeBrincat do all the heavy-lifting. It’s not likely that Lankinen can continue this Vezina-level of play through the remainder of the season.
It has been so much fun watching this team play, I cannot stress that enough. I’ve loved watching the young players develop and grow into their NHL roles and watching two cornerstone players like Kane and DeBrincat flourish. I’m just not sure their career-best paces will be enough in the end for the Blackhawks.