Ottawa Senators: What To Do With Alex DeBrincat?

OTTAWA, ONTARIO - OCTOBER 01: Alex DeBrincat #12 of the Ottawa Senators looks on prior to a face-off against the Montreal Canadiens in the first period at Canadian Tire Centre on October 01, 2022 in Ottawa, Ontario. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ONTARIO - OCTOBER 01: Alex DeBrincat #12 of the Ottawa Senators looks on prior to a face-off against the Montreal Canadiens in the first period at Canadian Tire Centre on October 01, 2022 in Ottawa, Ontario. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images) /

I’ve seen quite a lot of discourse as to what should happen with Ottawa Senators forward Alex DeBrincat. There pretty much seem to be two sides to this story, keep or trade. I’m going to break down arguments for each side and at the end I’ll say which side I’m on.

Next. Three Ottawa Senators Who Could Be Traded. dark

Arguments for Trading DeBrincat

When acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks, Alex DeBrincat was fresh off of a 41-goal season, the second of his career. He had the reputation of being an elite goalscorer who makes goals out of absolutely nothing. In his first season with the Senators, DeBrincat managed 27 goals. A clear down year from the last season’s 41. Is it just a down year? or is this the new normal for DeBrincat, playing away from elite playmaker Patrick Kane? It’s too early to tell, but while DeBrincat still has the reputation of a 40-goalscorer, the Senators might want to sell him now before his value dips more. Every single team in the NHL wants a 40-goalscorer, there will likely be lots of offers, even if it’s not as much value as you’d expect (remember, it only cost the Senators three draft picks to secure his services).

Another reason the Senators could be considering trading the goalscoring winger is that it might cost too much to keep him. Alex DeBrincat’s qualifying offer is 9 million dollars, and it’s been expressed many times that he would not accept anything less. That would make him Ottawa’s highest-paid player. Do you want to pay a player that’s been mostly skating on your second line 9 million dollars? Another factor added onto that is the Ottawa Senators appear to be entering a difficult salary cap situation where the Senators have approximately 17 million dollars to sign the following players

  • Alex DeBrincat
  • Shane Pinto
  • Travis Hamonic
  • Free Agent Goalie
  • 2 or 3 bottom 6 wingers

Say you sign DeBrincat to a one-year 9 million dollar deal, Shane Pinto to a 3-year deal at 3 million per, and Travis Hamonic at a 1-year deal at 1.5 million. This means you have 3.5 million dollars to sign a backup goalie as well as 2 or bottom 6 wingers. That makes it extremely difficult. On top of that, you have to re-sign DeBrincat at the end of next season again, and if he doesn’t get what he wants he can walk as a UFA, which ups the ante even more. One more thing on top of that, you need to give Jake Sanderson a SIGNIFICANT raise as his entry-level contract expires at the end of next season.

Arguments for keeping DeBrincat long term

Now that I’ve laid out the reasons to trade him away, I’m going to speak about why the Senators should consider keeping the forward. I mentioned earlier that he had an off-year this past season, and that is true. He scored 27 goals. 27 goals is still very good and ranked him fourth in goalscoring on the team, and with the 66 points he scored, he ranked fourth as well.

At his worst, you have the fourth least goals scored on the team. At his best (so far), he’s scored 41 goals, which ranked highest on the team in goals, and his career high of 78 points ranks him fourth on the team. Overall, he’s going to be your team’s fourth-best point-getter and one of your best goalscorers. Furthermore, with the proper linemates, I’m sure he can get back to that 40 goals pretty easily. This season, he got mainly second-line time playing with Shane Pinto and a rotation of Drake Batherson, Claude Giroux, and even Mathieu Joseph. DeBrincat was also not allowed to play how he wants to play. Under DJ Smith’s system, which utilizes a LOT of dump and chase, it lowers high-risk offensive chances and chances altogether. Fewer chances obviously will result in fewer goals. I think under a new coach (which is certainly a possibility) and with a more consistent set of linemates, his numbers will climb surely.

Another thing that’s to be considered is if you trade away a player of Alex DeBrincat’s caliber, you’re immediately going to be looking for another player to replace him with, and I’m not really confident in the options that might be on the market. The closest name that interests me is Tyler Bertuzzi who is a pending UFA, but first of all, it’s not even sure he’ll hit UFA status quite yet. He was Boston’s most important forward in the playoffs not named David Pastrnak in my opinion. Bertuzzi plays an extremely similar style of game to Brady Tkachuk and while I think he would be great on Ottawa, I still take DeBrincat over him every day of the week. Bertuzzi has only scored more than 21 goals once in his career, and only hit the 20 mark twice. I’m sure he’s not going to have any issues scoring 20+ goals in Ottawa, but my issue is his consistency. He’s also never played a full season, mostly due to injuries. For a team that’s already had really bad luck on the injury front, I’m not sure acquiring someone who seems to get hurt every year is the best move.

When it comes to the salary cap issues I highlighted earlier, there is an option I could see the Sens explore. trading away Mathieu Joseph could open up an extra 2.95 million dollars. In my opinion, he’s one of those players that has to be playing in a top 6 role in order to find success, and he’s just not going to get that ice time with the Sens. He’s not a bad player by any means, he’s just not what the Ottawa Senators need at this juncture. The Sens need a defense-first forward in the role he’s currently occupying on the third line. The salary cap will also be going up in a couple of years, and this will provide that extra space the Sens need.

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Closing Thoughts

The Ottawa Senators have definitely gotten themselves into an interesting position salary cap-wise, and it raises the question as to what to do to get out of it. I think getting rid of Alex DeBrincat would be an incredible mistake for this franchise as he is the purest goalscorer the Ottawa Senators have had since Dany Heatley. Yes, Josh Norris, Tim Stutzle, Brady Tkachuk, and even Claude Giroux are good for thirty goals year in and year out, but DeBrincat is that elite goalscorer the Sens have lacked for over a decade.