The puck is in Alex DeBrincat's court.
That was the message from TSN's Darren Dreger on his "Ray and Dregs" podcast with co-host and former New York Islanders forward Ray Ferraro on Monday. “DeBrincat wants a long-term extension, just not from the Ottawa Senators,” Dreger said. “He’d prefer to play in the U.S., just for family reasons."
"Where it gets problematic ... what's snarling up the trade is the belief that DeBrincat wants Timo Meirer money," Dreger stated. "So you're at $8.8, and I that teams are thinking that maybe he's more in the Jesper Bratt type of category. That's a million less per year over an eight-year term."
With the salary cap expected to go up next season, Ferraro argued that it makes the most sense for DeBrincat to wait to hit free agency given that there is going to be money in the system and he is likely more likely than not going put up big numbers on a team that was eighth in the league in power play percentage last year.
"His money is tied to his production. There's not a lot of enough intangible stuff like a Brady Tkachuk could have," noted Ferraro. "He's going to score, he's going to be on their power-play, and he's going to score; he always does." The problem is that Ottawa is not going to want to lose DeBrincat for nothing in free agency after trading a 1st, 2nd, and 2023 3rd round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks.
DeBrincat scored 27 goals and 39 assists in his first season with the Senators. He scored 40 goals twice playing with Patrick Kane in Chicago, which undoubtedly boosted his production and value on the trade market. Last year with the Sens, he played mostly with Shane Pinto, and talented center Josh Norris played only eight games after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.
It's understandable for teams like the Islanders to want to pay DeBrincat off of last season's numbers the same way the player and his agent believe he is worth a bit more than teams are willing to pay.
Speaking of his agent, in a late Monday report from The Athletic, agent Jeff Jackson contested that it was he and his client holding up a trade. "Agents and players don't make trades ... that's the GM"s job," said Jackson. There's public posturing going on between Jackson and Senators GM Pierre Dorian right now, and that could continue until a resolution for the 2023-24 season is found.
The Islanders, Anaheim Ducks, and Detroit Red Wings are believed to be the three teams most involved on the DeBrincat front. The Isles, with just over $1M in salary cap following the signings of Scott Mayfield, Pierre Engvall, and Semyon Varlamov, would have to move a contract the other way, rumored to be JG Pageau, and make further moves to fit DeBrincat under the cap this season.
If DeBrincat would get "Meier-type money" from the Islanders, it would put his second to only Mathew Barzal ($9.15M) in AAV per year and ahead of Bo Horvat (8.5M). Both Barzal and Horvat have eight-year contract extensions starting this season, meaning a long-term deal for DeBrincat would lock up nearly $27M a year amongst three players on the roster.