Steve Yzerman has a few administrative things to take care of this week, but otherwise, things are about to dramatically slow down.
That was Yzerman’s report Monday from his office suite at Little Caesars Arena, where his list of 2023-24 Detroit Red Wings now includes Alex DeBrincat. It took about two weeks of chatting with his Ottawa Senators counterpart to get the deal finalized, and the end result is adding the offensive firepower the Wings needed.
“We talked about adding goal-scoring ability to the team and I think Alex definitely fits that bill,” Yzerman said. “I think he’s a very intelligent hockey player. He has shown he can score goals at every level – at the junior level, at the NHL level. Very intelligent player. He’ll fit in nicely on the wing with us, whoever the coach decides to play with him.
“I would say I think we’re a better team today with Alex DeBrincat in the lineup. I hope all the changes we’ve made, additions we’ve made, make us a more competitive team.”
Hope springs eternal: Why Red Wings’ addition of Alex DeBrincat makes them look more like playoff team
It cost Dominik Kubalik, a veteran winger who scored 20 goals last season; mid-range defense prospect Donovan Sebrango, and a conditional first-round and fourth-round pick in 2024. The condition is the Wings get to choose between their own or the one they got from the Boston Bruins in the Tyler Bertuzzi trade, so that, Yzerman said, “gives us a little protection.” The Wings turned around and signed DeBrincat for four years at a $7.875 million annual average value.
“It was a number we were both comfortable with,” Yzerman said. “Bringing a player in, things are changing. You’re starting to see more players signing shorter-term contracts, not necessarily going the full seven and eight years. We discussed four and five and we were both comfortable doing four years.”
DeBrincat has two 41-goal seasons on his six-year NHL resume. At 25, he fits right in with the core group of the rebuild. DeBrincat (Farmington Hills) joins Dylan Larkin (Waterford) and Andrew Copp (Ann Arbor) in giving the Wings a home-grown flavor. They suddenly look like a team that can have multiple scoring lines – their depth of wingers who shoot right now numbers DeBrincat, Lucas Raymond and David Perron. DeBrincat, along with free-agent acquisition Shayne Gostisbehere, project to boost the power play, which has struggled to be consistently effective for years.
“I think he’s more a goal scorer,” Yzerman said. “He’s a very smart player, passes the puck and really manages the puck extremely well. I think he’s a good linemate to play with, he’s not just a shooter. He can make plays. He’s valuable on the power play and he does a good job five-on-five.”
Yzerman added half a dozen players in free agency, but bringing in DeBrincat is what stokes hope the Wings might just challenge for a playoff spot next spring. It was a deal Yzerman had to make (and which only took about two weeks).
“There are a limited number of what we call goal scorers – the guys that can get it on their stick and any time they shoot it, it looks like it has a chance to go in,” Yzerman said. “I think we’d categorize Alex in that mold, as a sniper. Just one shot can change a game. With our players, you’ve seen at the deadline, myself trading actual hockey players for draft picks. The players have to have people to play with. I ran into Ben Chiarot in the hallway on my way upstairs – he’s excited we brought in not only Alex but other players in, because they want to be as competitive as they possibly can be. I think the guys will feel good that we have added NHL quality players to the roster and we hope to be more competitive and the players will feed off of that.”