Blackhawks breakdown: Andrew Brunette

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Blackhawks breakdown: Andrew Brunette

CSNChicago.com Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers and PGLhost Chris Boden will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on theHawks roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.In his 16th NHL season, Andrew Brunette played in 78games and averaged 13 minutes and 33 seconds per game. He scored 12 goals (fouron the power play) with 15 assists (three on the power play) for 27 points andfinished minus-13. He was credited with 21 hits and four penalty minutes. Inthe series vs. Phoenix, Brunette scored one goal (in Game 3), has no assistsand finished minus-3.Boden's take: The team was almost unbeatable when hefound the scoresheet (25-2). Problem was, he couldn't find it often enough inthe least-productive full season of his career. The times his soft hands paidoff around the net couldn't make up for hs lack of speed that really left himlooking like a square peg in a round hole on this team for much of theseason.Maybe his lack of a defined role -- or line -- affected hiseffectiveness. The 38-year-old has been a definition of durability throughout hiscareer, and he played through a painful foot injury in the playoffs.Myers' take: The veteran wing has a great set of handsand that was beneficial around the net. That made him a decent option for apower play that needed someone who was willing to be a net presence. ButBrunettes lack of speed meant he had a tough time keeping up with his swifterteammates. He started on top lines and had a few later games there. He was partof that troika with Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane that got hot late in the season.But he spent more time getting juggled up and down the forward lines, nevertruly finding a niche anywhere. The constant changing showed in his stats: his27 points were his fewest since 1998-99 (31 with the Nashville Predators).2012-13 ExpectationsChris: Brunette already indicated the team won't have himback next season, and he had to decide whether this would be a disappointingend to an otherwise productive NHL career that dates back 16 seasons.Tracey: Brunette basically said hes not planning onbeing back with the Blackhawks next season. Sounds like he was told as much,anyway. But right now its uncertain whether hell even play anywhere nextseason. The 38-year-old said he needed to think about whether he wanted to playanother NHL season after wrapping up his 16th. If this was it, Brunette had apretty solid career on which to look back.How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sureto chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out some ofBrunette's highlights above.Previously: Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, SteveMontador, Sean O'Donnell, Brent Seabrook, Nick Leddy, Patrick Sharp, DanielCarcilloUp next: Marcus Kruger

Connor McDavid believes Blackhawks prospect Alex DeBrincat will succeed in NHL: 'He's a special player'

Connor McDavid believes Blackhawks prospect Alex DeBrincat will succeed in NHL: 'He's a special player'

Blackhawks prospect Alex DeBrincat is putting up video-game numbers in the Ontario Hockey League.

He ranks first among all players with 49 goals and 104 points, and has done so in only 50 games. That's an average of more than two points per game.

DeBrincat, the Blackhawks' second-round draft pick (No. 39 overall) in 2015 thanks to the Andrew Shaw trade, became the Erie Otters' all-time leading goal scorer earlier this year and on Saturday, he tied Brad Boyes for second on the team's all-time points list with 309. The only player he's chasing now is teammate Dylan Strome, who has 329 and counting.

Connor McDavid, who ranks fourth in Otters history with 285 points, was there for DeBrincat's rookie season when he scored 51 goals and 50 assists. The 20-year-old Oilers captain very much still pays attention to the Otters, and isn't surprised by the heightened success of his former teammate.

"He’s having another amazing season," McDavid said. "No surprise there."

It was easy to suggest DeBrincat's numbers were inflated because he benefited from having a player like McDavid centering his line. But McDavid insists that wasn't the case.

"Honestly, we helped each other," McDavid said. "It was not a one-way street by any means. He finds a way to score goals. My year they were saying, 'Oh, he was just playing with me.' Then the other year, he’s playing with (Strome). He’s playing with Stromer again. To score 50 three seasons in a row is absolutely incredible no matter who you’re playing with or what you’re doing. Absolute credit to him."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The numbers back it up, too.

DeBrincat's points per game average has increased in each of the last three seasons: 1.53, 1.68 and 2.08, a significant jump from his second to third season. It's especially impressive when you factor in that he's scored only eight of his 49 goals on the power play this year after combining for 34 goals on the man advantage in his first two. 

Initially, McDavid was a little skeptical when informed that newly-signed winger DeBrincat, who's now listed as 5-7, 170 pounds, would be his new linemate. It didn't take long for that to change.

"He kind of just came out of nowhere," McDavid said. "I remember us signing (him) and looking, and it said he was 5-2, 140 pounds, whatever. The GM at the time, Sherry Bassin, said 'I found you a new winger.' I’m like, ‘That guy is going to play with me?’ Sure enough, he comes in and we kind of have that chemistry right away.

"He knows where the net is. He finds a way to score basically every night. He’s got a great shot. He’s one of the feistiest guys I’ve ever played with. It’s really remarkable about what he’s been able to do."

Size is surely to be the biggest concern for DeBrincat at the NHL level, but players such as Cam Atkinson (5-7), Johnny Gaudreau (5-8) and Mats Zuccarello (5-7) are proving that you can be among the league's best despite being undersized. And the game is evolving into more of an up-tempo style where teams built on speed is becoming the new norm.

DeBrincat's willingness to stick his nose into dirty areas combined with his offensively-gifted ability is a big reason why McDavid believes his former linemate will succeed at the highest level.

"I think well," McDavid said when asked how DeBrincat's game will translate into the NHL. "He’s just got such a drive and such a nose for the net that I don’t think he’s going to be stopped. He takes on guys much bigger. I don’t really know how he does it.

"Especially when he was a rookie and I was playing with him, he’s going into scrums against guys that are 6-5, and you’re on the ice thinking, ‘How the hell am I going to help you?’ He definitely picks his fights. He’s a special person and special player."

CSN's Dan Hayes meets the White Sox Dan Hayes

CSN's Dan Hayes meets the White Sox Dan Hayes

Is the White Sox clubhouse big enough for two Dan Hayeses?

We're about to find out this spring training as CSN White Sox Insider Dan Hayes covers the team, which includes first base prospect Danny Hayes.

The Sox prospect Hayes battled .250 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs in 55 games for Charlotte last season.

The big-league hopeful and White Sox beat reporter spoke with CSN's Chuck Garfien about the similarities the two (don't) have.

No word yet on whether they'll battle the two Rougned Odors and Geovani/Geovany Sotos to an Anchoman-style duel.

Check it all out in the hilarious video above.