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Ottawa Senators Alex DeBrincat Signing and the Salary Cap Saga

The Ottawa Senators and General Manager Pierre Dorion have some big spender plans. This is aided with the new owners, Michael Andlauer and his group, who have deep pockets and are willing to spend. This was evidenced by the signing of fee-agent goaltender, Joonas Korpisalo. There is just one problem with that, money doesn’t grow on trees. Or perhaps the tree that grows money is only so tall. If the Ottawa Senators and Alex DeBrincat will be signing a contract together, the numbers must add up. When you hammer down into the numbers, the Senators do not have the money, and someone has to go.

Where’s the Money for the Ottawa Senators Signing Winger Alex DeBrincat

If someone has to go, the obvious choice is winger Alex DeBrincat. The reason DeBrincat is the obvious choice, besides the plethora of rumours floating around, is the money. If you are short on money, it is easier to get rid of one person who makes a lot. Furthermore, the Senators currently have only 14 roster spots filled. This is while having $10.3M in available cap space. It seems DeBrincat is seeking around $8M. Also, Dorion needs to re-sign Group 10.2(c) free agent Shane Pinto. Pinto is likely to command $1.5M, if not more. Therefore, someone has to go.

Who Has to Go, Some Options

As mentioned, the most likely is DeBrincat. Given his asking price, he is the highest on the list. A couple of other options to free up salary include Anton Forsberg, Mathieu Joseph, or possibly Drake Batherson. Moreover, the only reason these three are options is because they make enough money to have an impact. Additionally, they have contracts that end sooner, rather than the core group that’s locked up. So, the question comes down to, is Alex DeBrincat the type of player to essentially build your team around?

What Makes DeBrincat So Desirable?

At 25 years old, DeBrincat is already a two-time, 41-goal sniper. That statistic in itself at least is a conversation starter. One counter-argument is that those totals were achieved playing alongside Patrick Kane. It is difficult to play at that level with just anybody, although Tim Stützle appears to be projecting to that level. Further on DeBrincat, his career-high in points at 78 is not overly impressive. He’s small, which does limit his versatility. One final thought is the fact that he does have playoff experience, albeit limited. He registered six points in nine games in the 2019-20 Chicago Blackhawk playoff run. On this Sens group, any playoff experience is a bonus.

The Top Candidate to Be Dealt

If Dorion and the Ottawa Senators are making signing Alex DeBrincat a contract a reality, someone else has to go. Given the alignment of the roster, the player that makes the most sense is Mathieu Joseph. Joseph is set to make $2.95M in 2023-24. The speedy winger can contribute in a multitude of ways, including killing penalties. Also, Joseph has shown flashes of being able to put up points. However, last year he only had three goals in 56 games. Those flashes have tended to be few and far between. Therefore, his potential trade stock is not overly-high. Dorion would definitely need to add prospects or draft picks to sweeten the trade stakes.

The Top-Six with DeBrincat

One last point on DeBrincat is that with him in the lineup, you are a better all-around lineup. He occupies the left side for one-timers on the top power play. He can be counted on to be defensively reliable and skate hard in his own zone. Thus, he can play on any of the top-three lines ideally. Likely, with Joshua Norris healthy, and the chemistry between Brady Tkachuk and Claude Giroux with Stützle, DeBrincat plays with Norris. Norris is a sniper in his own right, with 35 goals in just 66 games in 2021-22. All this leads to the thought, if this lineup loses DeBrincat, you’ll likely be trying to replace his offence.

How Will It Play Out

This all leads to the fact that the Senators lineup is better with DeBrincat in the lineup. On the other hand, can Dorion and his staff find a way to make it work? One thing is for sure, if the Senators have ambitions as a playoff team, they will require toughness. Offensively, with DeBrincat they would be set, but they’ll need a strong supporting cast throughout their bottom-six forwards. Someone will be needing to give DeBrincat space to succeed when space gets tough to come by.

Main Photo Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports


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