At the end of the day, pending RFA Alex DeBrincat will re-sign a deal with the Ottawa Senators. The Senators are an exciting organization to be a part of right now. DeBrincat as a 25-year-old winger, who can snipe, fits into that ideology. Moreover, when you dig in to crunch numbers, the salary cap availability is tight. Although even with a tight cap, the team is motivated and will make it work. Therefore, when training camp 2023-24 rolls around, the Senators will have number 12 in their line-up.
Signing a Star RFA Alex DeBrincat to a Long-term Contract
In DeBrincat’s first year with the club, it was admittedly a struggle at times. When you look at the start of the season, DeBrincat was looking to find chemistry with his new club. In addition, as he referred to in the year-end press conference, finding consistency did not come easy. Now, expectations did come in high, coming off a 41-goal campaign in 2021-22. So, when trying to find chemistry with new Senator line-mates, not getting off to a hot start was frustrating. This lack of chemistry was further exacerbated due to the injury to centre Josh Norris. However, as the season wore on, DeBrincat’s work ethic took over.
DeBrincat’s 2022-23 Statistics
Alex DeBrincat ended the season with very respectable numbers in 2022-23. He scored 27 goals, and added 39 assists, for 66 points. This was in playing all 82 games for the fourth time in his career. Of his six career NHL seasons, this was his third-best point total, but his fourth-best PPG. Hence, when you consider overall performance, personally, it was a somewhat average season.
One statistic that did show DeBrincat’s comfort and confidence in Ottawa was his shot total. His 263 shots, were the second-highest total of his career. In contrast, his 10.3 shooting % was the second worst of his career. This low shooting percentage is very likely a result of not having Patrick Kane as a setup guy. Kane and DeBrincat had developed great chemistry and rapport. A lack of chemistry was the very thing DeBrincat felt at the start of the season in Ottawa. Furthermore, there is one more statistic showing that overall DeBrincat was on track with his career projection. His 19:00 TOI, was down quite a bit from 20:51 last year. Despite the slight drop in ice time, he managed more power play ice time than ever.
The Intangibles From the Person, and the Club
When you look at it from a statistical standpoint, DeBrincat seems comfortable enough, so what about the intangibles? Alex and his family did welcome their first child into the world this year. So, as Alex suggested in his end-of-season press conference, his family will influence his decision. In saying that, they have had a year to settle in now. Also, with someone with the leadership qualities like Brady Tkachuk around, who is a fellow American, the organization seems welcoming. This is furthered by the repeated message of General Manager Pierre Dorion that he would be an asset to the club.
Finding the Money to Sign DeBrincat Long-Term
For Dorion, Alex DeBrincat is definitely a player he wants on the roster, but to sign a deal is the money available? One may argue that the Jakob Chychrun trade made this part difficult, if not impossible. The Chychrun acquisition brought in an additional $4.6 million annual cap hit, until the end of 2024-25. With that said, the counter-argument is that it is only $4.6 million. When you look at the team as a whole, they currently have $67.340 million allocated for next season. The league salary cap is $83.5 million, thus leaving around $16 million. Let’s say the Senators get a slight deal with DeBrincat at $8 million AAV. Therefore, they are left with $8 million to fill about six roster spots. So, barring any LTIR transfers, you could say the front office is putting all the eggs into one basket.
In terms of a player like DeBrincat, he brings the game and qualities of a leader you want to reward. For the Senators, with RFAs Erik Brannstrom, Julien Gauthier, and Dylan Gambrell, they do have decisions to make. However, each of these three will come at a similar price tag to last year. Austin Watson is a UFA who fits a similar circumstance. Therefore, if we tally up the cap availability, you could estimate about $4 million for the final two pieces. This is where the great debate comes up, what to do with it? There is a lot of talk about finding a competent number-one goaltender, but they are usually pricier. In addition, if they save money in the net, could they find a key, third-line veteran or a top right-shot defenceman? At that price, and due to the market demands, it is unlikely.
In the End, DeBrincat Signs a Long-term Deal and Stays an Ottawa Senator
At the end of the day, the Senators will re-sign Alex DeBrincat to a deal. He just seems too comfortable not to sign. He sets up for one-timers on the top power play, of a very exciting and talented forward group. Furthermore, the team has the money to pay him. Yes, there might be slight sacrifices elsewhere, but that is how a group grows and develops together. By the end of 2022-23, the Senators only missed the playoffs by three wins or six points. This is in stark contrast to missing by 27 points in 2021-22. Hence, re-signing DeBrincat helps bring the group together, and helps drive the team to a 2023-24 playoff run.
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