Red Wings: Potential Trade & Contract Projection for Alex DeBrincat

The Hockey Writers

When asked about the possibility of trading for a top-of-the-lineup player, Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman offered a glimpse into his decision-making process.

“We weigh, ‘Is it a young player? Does he fit into the timeline for us? What’s the cost to acquire him? And then what’s the cost to sign him?’”

2023 NHL Entry Draft Guide Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli Banner

Alex DeBrincat is one of the best players on the trade block. The Farmington Hills-native has been linked to the Red Wings and meets the first two parts of Yzerman’s decision-making criteria – he’s young (25) and will remain in his prime for the next several years.

Related: Red Wings Notebook: The Need for Trades, Top Prospects & More

That leaves the last two considerations – the acquisition cost and contract. To see if DeBrincat meets those criteria as well, let’s first examine what a trade could look like and then explore contract projections for the high-scoring forward.

Setting the Stage

Before identifying what the Red Wings could offer for DeBrincat, there’s some context that’s worth exploring.

First, insider Pierre LeBrun noted that he expects a first-round pick to be part of any potential deal. LeBrun also suggested that the pick could be in either 2023 or 2024, so there’s some flexibility there. (from ‘LeBrun rumblings: What’s next for Milan Lucic? Plus the latest on O’Reilly, Hellebuyck, DeBrincat, Dubois, more’ – The Athletic – 6/21/23)

Alex DeBrincat Ottawa Senators
Alex DeBrincat registered 27 goals and 66 points last year for the Ottawa Senators. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Related, Jacob Billington—who covers the Senators for THW—shared that goaltending and a top-six replacement for DeBrincat are Ottawa’s top priorities this offseason.

On the Red Wings’ side of things, it’s worth pointing out that Yzerman did not explicitly state that he wouldn’t trade draft picks (save the No. 9 selection) and prospects. They just need to be dealt for the right player – as evidenced by the criteria noted above.


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And finally, there are other teams competing for DeBrincat’s services. Yes, it’s possible—if not likely—that Detroit is one of his preferred destinations. But there are also other teams on his list, and the Senators will be working the phone lines to get the best deal for DeBrincat.

With that out of the way, let’s get to how a DeBrincat trade could come together.

Red Wings Trade for Alex DeBrincat

There are two ways the Red Wings could acquire DeBrincat – a direct trade with the Senators or with a third team involved.

Starting with the direct trade route, the Red Wings have an extra first-round pick in each of the next two drafts – the No. 17 pick this year (via the Filip Hronek trade) and Boston’s first-round pick next year (via the Tyler Bertuzzi trade). Note that if Boston’s pick is a top-12 selection next year, it would transfer to 2025, where it would be unprotected.

In addition to a first rounder, the Red Wings would also need to move a roster player or prospect. One player that comes to mind is Dominik Kubalik. He’s coming off of a stellar 2022-23 campaign, and even better World Championship, and is signed for one more year at a cost-effective $2.5 million.

Dominik Kubalik Detroit Red Wings
Dominik Kubalik scored 20 goals last season for the Detroit Red Wings. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Filip Zadina or Jonatan Berggren could be dealt instead. But in my opinion, Kubalik holds more value right now.

The Red Wings could also get a third team involved and deal exclusively from their war chest of futures. Ideally, the third team has a top-six player on the block and wants picks and prospects in return.

For example, the Red Wings and Senators could work out a deal with the Philadelphia Flyers that sends DeBrincat to Detroit and Travis Konecny to Ottawa, where he’d be reunited with Claude Giroux. In exchange, the Flyers would receive a first-round pick from Detroit—either in 2023 or 2024—and a second-tier prospect like Elmer Soderblom, Albert Johansson, or Cross Hanas. Something along those lines – more depth players, prospects, and/or later-round picks might be needed to even things out.

I realize this is less than what the Senators paid for DeBrincat in last summer’s trade. In my opinion, they don’t have a ton of leverage – DeBrincat wants out and there are only a handful of destinations where he’d prefer to go. Either the Senators trade him or he walks as an unrestricted free agent next summer. Simply put, it’s a buyer’s market right now for DeBrincat.

Then there’s the contract component. My understanding of the situation is that the acquiring team will have an extension in place – whether that’s a sign-and-trade scenario or DeBrincat has already agreed to terms with his new team before the trade is finalized. 

But for how many years? And for how much? Let’s dive in and figure that out.

Contract Outlook for the Red Wings & DeBrincat

I ran my contract projection model to determine what DeBrincat’s next contract could look like, and it likened his statistical profile to that of Kyle Connor, Andrei Svechnikov, and Filip Forsberg.

To properly assess the validity of DeBrincat’s comparables, let’s dig into the three contracts. The table below outlines their details:

Player Year Signed Term AAV Cap Hit %

Kyle Connor 2019 7 Years $7,142,857 8.76%

Andrei Svechnikov 2021 8 Years $7,750,000 9.51%

Filip Forsberg 2022 8 Years $8,500,000 10.30%

The model suggested that the bargaining range for the Red Wings and DeBrincat would be between $7.68 million and $9.03 million per year, depending on the term of the deal. In DeBrincat’s case, I would expect an eight-year contract just below Dylan Larkin’s $8.7 million AAV – something closer to $8.25 million to $8.5 million.

For reference, AFP Analytics is projecting eight years at $8.97 million and Evolving-Hockey has DeBrincat signing an eight-year, $9.06 million AAV deal. (from ‘Alex DeBrincat trade destinations: 7 teams that could be interested and what a deal could look like’ – The Athletic – 6/20/23)

Final Word

Back to Yzerman’s trade criteria. Yes, DeBrincat is young. And yes, he would be part of their core moving forward.

To acquire him, the Red Wings would need to give up at minimum a first-round pick—either No. 17 this year or Boston’s next year—plus:

  • Kubalik or Berggren if trading directly with the Senators
  • Soderblom, Johansson, or Hanas—plus other minor pieces—if working with a third team

And finally, DeBrincat would require an eight-year contract in the neighborhood of $8.5 million per season. He would be under contract at that amount until he’s 33, so there is certainly risk involved on the back-end of the deal.

Next: Red Wings 2023 NHL Draft Preview: 10 Picks to Build a Bright Future

If you were in Steve Yzerman’s shoes, would you pursue DeBrincat? At these prices and risk levels, I would.

Data courtesy of CapFriendly and Natural Stat Trick.

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