The Red Wings finally got their man. Alex DeBrincat is coming home.
All summer long, the Detroit prospect’s matchup with dynamic scorer DeBrinkat seemed near perfect: the Farmington Hills, Michigan, native with no interest in the Ottawa stretch and his hometown Red Wings. In dire need of a scorer. . The fit seemed very natural, though the finer details—a trade with the Senators and a contract with DeBrincat—were less so. Would Detroit be willing to pay for a capital project? And Big deal? Would the Senators be willing to trade the 25-year-old Atlantic Division leading scorer?
In the end, these questions were just details. And on Sunday night, Detroit finally stopped its summer stride, acquiring a conditional 2024 first-round pick DeBrincat, winger Dominic Kubalek, prospect Donovan Sibrango, and a 2024 fourth-round draft pick. Immediately, the team also announced a four-year contract. Contract with DeBrincat has an average annual value of $7.875 million.
There’s a lot to unpack with the move, even as anticipated and discussed as it has been in recent days and weeks. But more importantly, the Red Wings finally got a much-needed scorer.
Even during his free press conference with the team last week, Detroit general manager Steve Yzerman made it clear he still had plans for such a move for a team that finished with the ninth-fewest goals in the league last season.
“We both love great scorers,” he added. “Hopefully we will get there. Again, we will continue to work on that, and how we get there is kind of a challenge.”
Without DeBrincat, the Red Wings will go as far as next season. They signed JT Compher as a versatile, potentially positional forward, who would make it difficult to play against and also contribute to the secondary offense, with 52 points. They also added Daniel Sprung, who scored 21 goals and 46 points last season in Seattle.
And from that press conference, it looked like the Red Wings might have to try and emulate that scoring approach. They had an advanced midfielder capable of scoring 80 points in Dylan Larkin, a veteran guard in David Perron who had just scored 24 goals, and a young player capable of making a huge step forward in Lucas Raymond.
But above all, they had their depth. If they’re going to win, it’s likely to be by getting along well and getting opportunistic contributions from players like Compher, Sprong, Andrew Copp, and Jonatan Berggren – who are certainly good players, and Compher and Copp are multidimensional. can help. at both ends.
but now ? DeBrincat gives them the kind of goalscorer they’ve been missing on the wing. Detroit has not scored 40 points since Marian Hossa in 2008-09. DeBrincat has reached that number twice in the past five years.
That’s not to say he’s a perfect player – he’s an exciting guy who always needs to compromise and, as such, saw his output drop to 27 goals last season in Ottawa. But that number would have been second only to the Red Wings, as well as 66 points. by a wide margin.
And despite missing out on 20-goal target Kobalek when that deal was discussed, acquiring a scorer of Debrinkat’s caliber outweighs Detroit’s biggest needs this summer and could make him a wild card contender in 2024.
The Red Wings were an 80-point team last season, so they still have a few hills to climb on that front. But if you think Sprong can replace Kubalik in attack, then between DeBrincat, Compher, improved positioning behind Ville Husso in goal, blue line improvement potential, some expected internal growth as well, then getting into the 90s looks entirely possible. Last season, last place in the Wild Card class went to the Panthers at 92.
That number was a bit low—the previous year it took 100 points in the Eastern Conference—but especially with the changing of the guard in some of the permanent locker rooms, especially in Boston, there is potential for a change in the East. And Detroit has positioned itself, at least, to be in the running to cash in.
But the biggest upside is that DeBrincat’s trade seems to signal the next phase of the Red Wings’ rebuilding.
This isn’t the first time Yzerman has traded draft picks, mind you, facing third and even second round picks in recent years for Nick Leddy, Hosso, and Alex Nedeljkovic. But first-round picks are a different animal. And after years of preaching patience, Yzerman has just shown that he’s willing to drop a pick that could fall into the top 20 to improve now.
DeBrinkat, however, like the exact kind of stance such a decision would take. Not only because he is a top scorer, but because he is 25 years old. He’ll help the team on day one, but it may also be short-lived — despite having a four-year extension, he’ll still be able to reach unrestricted free agency at 29.
That doesn’t mean the Red Wings have to pull out all the stops now to win during DeBrincat’s contract. But they should at least tell you that they think competition in that time frame is possible. Yzerman was loath to give any schedule to the Red Wings struggle and feared the terms of the deal were wrong, but here’s the obvious fix: The next phase of Detroit’s longtime preparation has arrived.
This may not mean that sales will end by the trading deadline, although that possibility certainly seems less likely than it did 24 hours ago. And that may not mean making the playoffs next season either.
But suddenly it doesn’t seem so far-fetched. The Red Wings can attack a team next season that must have at least three top scorers in the front row, and the most able to handle tough matches.
Their defense will be tested, as well as their strength, and they will have to see Hosou bounce back. All of these questions are real and DeBrincat doesn’t answer them.
But whether it’s right away, or a year or two later, the Red Wings’ path to the playoffs is much easier.
They have their man. And now the next chapter can begin.
(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)