Is losing out on Alex DeBrincat the latest NY Islanders failure?

New York Rangers v Ottawa Senators
New York Rangers v Ottawa Senators / Chris Tanouye/Freestyle Photo/GettyImages
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Is that fair to call this an Islanders failure when it comes to DeBrincat? I say no.

The two-time 40-goal scorer's situation was not Panarin, Gaudreau, or Kadri. He was not a free agent. The Ottawa Senators were in a complicated and precarious position where the player had leverage as to where he wanted to go because an extension would generate a better return for the Sens. He's from Michigan, grew up a Red Wings, and saw this as an opportunity to play for his hometown team.

It was reported he wanted a Timo Meier contract. He ended up taking term half as much at less money to go to Detroit and forego free agency next summer when the cap is on the rise.

If you want to believe that DeBrincat chose the Red Wings over the Islanders, then we'd have first to assume that the Senators and Islanders had agreed on a trade. From there, the Isles had offered an extension that was longer and richer than what Detroit was offering, but DeBrincat chose his hometown team at a discount over Long Island.

Is that all possible? Perhaps. It's Lamoriello, so we'll never know.

Lou Lamoriello
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

However, if it were the case, it would be unfair to conclude that it was more about not playing for the Islanders than it was about playing for the Red Wings. Could the Isles have made the best deal to Ottawa and been willing to take DeBrincat on as a rental? I suppose, but that hasn't been the way Lamoriello operates. He makes trades with the intent and expectation of keeping those players.

Outbidding Detroit for DeBrincat would have meant losing JG Pageau, a 2014 1st rounder, and another player for someone headed to arbitration. The same leverage DeBrincat had over the Sens, he would've had over the Islanders. Oh, and they may have needed to move another player too.

Now imagine the Islanders had traded for DeBrincat and lost him after one year without any return. If that had happened, then the fanbase would really have had something to be upset about.

I understand that until a top free-agent chooses Long Island or when a player requesting a trade has the Islanders a preferred destination, this narrative will continue. It persists no matter how many of their own free agents want to stay with the team. It persists despite them now playing in one of the best arena's in the league with committed ownership.

Yet, it's better for Lamoriello and the organization to be in the mix for these players than the alternative. For years, they weren't even in the conversation for players of this caliber for a variety of reasons. It's only a matter of time before the land the right one, but for many, they'll have to see it before they can believe it can happen.