It appears the Alex DeBrincat sweepstakes are down to the Detroit Red Wings or the New York Islanders.
Well, unless the Ottawa Senators bite the bullet and keep him throughout the first half of the season and revisit the trade market ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline. The fact is, DeBrincat has told the Senators that he will not sign a long-term deal with the club and likely become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Senators would be wise to move on from DeBrincat rather than lose him for nothing, but they must feel underwhelmed at the moment regarding the trade market for his services. DeBrincat, 25, had 27 goals and 66 points in 82 games this past season and is a two-time 40-plus goal scorer.
Things are complicated with the New York Islanders. The Islanders would love to add DeBrincat but are tight against the cap with under $1 million in space available. General Manager Lou Lamoriello will need to part with a higher-priced player in a deal with Ottawa or make another transaction elsewhere to make space. Then, will the Islanders, who just signed goaltender Ilya Sorokin, Matthew Barzal, and Bo Horvat to long-term deals, have room to extend DeBrincat? The Detroit Red Wings have the space not only to acquire DeBrincat but also have room to sign him to a long-term extension.
It seems as though Steve Yzerman is delaying and trying to force Senators General Manager Pierre Dorion’s hand. Recent rumors have suggested that the Senators have two offers on the table for DeBrincat, and are mulling over their options. Detroit Red Wings fans know that, like Lieutenant Colonel William B. Travis, Yzerman draws a line in the sand and won’t budge regarding trade offers and contract negotiations. DeBrincat landing in Detroit will come down to whether or not the Senators can garner a better offer than Detroit’s or if they elect to ride this out for a few months and revisit it.
The Detroit Red Wings need a contingency plan with Ottawa.
This won’t go over nearly as well with the Detroit Red Wings fan base as simply trading for DeBrincat, but if something goes awry between the Senators and Red Wings, Detroit needs a Plan B. Usually, Plan B isn’t as alluring as Plan A; that’s why it’s not the first choice.
The Detroit Red Wings should at least kick the tires on Vladimir Tarasenko if he’s still available if they miss on DeBrincat.
Tarasenko, 31, is coming off an 18-goal and 32-assist season over 69 games split between the St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers. Tarasenko recently changed representation after negotiations stalled between his former agent and Carolina. All signs pointed toward Tarasenko landing in Carolina, but that doesn’t appear to be the case now. Rumors suggest that the Senators want to sign the Russian forward if they trade DeBrincat. So, if Detroit doesn’t land DeBrincat, why not consider Tarasenko? Sure, at 31, he doesn’t precisely fit the trajectory of Detroit’s rebuild, but he could be a valuable middle-six winger if he’s willing to sign a short-term deal that will likely average around $7 million.
Tarasenko recorded 34 goals and 82 points over 75 games in 2021-22. It wouldn’t be out of the question to suggest he could potentially lead the Detroit Red Wings in goals next season. If he’s on a short-term deal, Yzerman may be able to continue stockpiling assets by moving him a year or two into the contract.