As we watch and wait to see what the Ottawa Senators will do with star winger Alex DeBrincat, much of the focus has been on his preferred destinations, and the type of package the New York Islanders or another team will need to send to Ottawa in return for the 2022 All-Star and two-time 40+ goal-scorer. However, are we certain DeBrincat wants to sign an extension at this juncture?
The 25-year-old is one year away from unrestricted free agency, and the salary cap is expected to go up at least 5% next summer, with DeBrincat among the most highly-coveted targets across the league for a variety of suitors. Senators' GM Pierre Dorian has allowed teams to start negotiations with DeBrincat's camp, but so far, that's where things have stalled.
The Senators are in a tricky position. DeBrincat likes the team and coaching staff but has already reportedly turned down an eight-year contract extension offer from Ottawa. But how much is that about that is Ottawa compared to whether or not he wants to be a UFA after the 2023-24 season?
"He said free agency comes once, and he’s open to multiple teams, but there’s a cap and the cap isn’t going up by a lot, and teams have to work with him, and we’re trying to get a (trade) done at the same time. There are multiple factors here, but we’re just going to do what’s right for the organization. We always do what’s right for the organization."- Sens GM Pierre Dorian
The Islanders, Anaheim Ducks, or any other team that is "in" on DeBrincat want him to sign an extension, given the combination of players, picks, and/or prospects it will take to get him. DeBrincat is looking for a specific type of deal, one that will be commensurate with the kind of offers he would be foregoing if he simply waited to become an unrestricted free agent. So far, teams have been either unwilling or unable to hit the number he and his agent seek for this season and beyond.
On Hockey Night in New York with Sean Cuthbert and Sean Cuthbert, their guest Steve Warne, who covers the Senators for The Hockey News gave an excellent breakdown of the situation:
After DeBrincat turned down a long-term contract, the Senators filed for arbitration and could receive as much as of 15% discount off the $9M qualifying offer tag. However, going that route would prevent DeBrincat from signing an extension with the Senators or anyone else until after Jan. 1 per the CBA, making it more likely he remains in Ottawa to start the season.
The longer this goes on for the Senators without a resolution, the less leverage they'll have with trade partners. It's fair to assume that the price will go down from potential suitors if an extension isn't attached to the deal. The Islanders know they'll have to part with a valuable piece of their team to acquire DeBrincat to make the salary work and meet Ottawa's needs, but would they be willing to do it without the long-term extension?
It would be a high-risk, high-reward scenario.
The 2023-24 team would benefit greatly from DeBrincat's talent, and the possibility of pairing him with Mathew Barzal and Bo Horvat has to be tantalizing. The Isles would then have the remainder of the season to sell DeBrincat on Long Island, the same way it has been sold to others in recent years. Plus, the Isles would have the advantage of being able to offer an eight-year extension, one more year of term than other teams.
It would be Lou Lamoriello's gutsiest move to date.