Alex DeBrincat was all smiles on a teleconference on Monday, wearing a retro Detroit Pistons cap and talking about how happy he is to be playing for his hometown Red Wings the next four seasons.
Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello was not on camera. Likely, his visage was considerably more dour after being unable to work out a deal with the Ottawa Senators for the high-scoring wing.
The two-time 40-goal scorer from Farmington Hills, Michigan, was exactly what the Islanders need. But the Islanders’ proposed trade package, which included center Jean-Gabriel Pageau and the remaining three seasons of his six-year, $30 million deal, as well as right wing Oliver Wahlstrom, according to an NHL source, did not entice the Senators.
It seems certain that Lamoriello would have had to include a first-round pick and maybe a prospect as well. The Islanders have not picked in the first round since 2019 and might be reluctant to surrender future premium picks.
It also seems likely that the Senators did not want to take on any large salaries such as Pageau’s. He is from Ottawa and played his first seven-plus NHL seasons with the Senators.
The Red Wings landed DeBrincat on Sunday for forward Dominik Kubalik, who is entering the last season of a two-year, $5 million deal; defense prospect Donovan Sebrango, a conditional first-round pick in 2024 and a fourth-round pick in 2024.
“There’s just a limited number of actual what we call — I don’t know what the true definition of a goal-scorer is, but there just aren’t a lot of them around the league,” Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman said on Monday’s teleconference. “The guys that can get [the puck] on the stick and any time they shoot it, it looks like it has a chance of going in. We categorize Alex in that mode, as a sniper. Just one shot can change a game.”
DeBrincat, 25, has scored 41 goals twice in his six NHL seasons. He promptly agreed to a four-year, $31.5 million extension with the Red Wings.
The source said it was the Islanders’ understanding that DeBrincat was willing to sign a new deal with them.
The Red Wings and the Islanders were believed to be the two teams seriously vying for DeBrincat.
“I think Detroit was obviously, I think, my No. 1,” DeBrincat said. “There were definitely other teams. But in the end, I’m happy I’m here and happy to join this team and I think this team has a lot of potential.”
So now Lamoriello, who has been pining for a high-scoring wing since arriving on Long Island in 2018 (remember his free-agent pursuit of Artemi Panarin in 2019?) must pivot to a Plan B.
What that is remains uncertain. Former Ranger Vladimir Tarasenko, a proven goal-scorer, is unsigned, but he’s 31, not 25, and plays little defense. Plus the Islanders have less than $400,000 in cap space even after shedding the final season of Josh Bailey’s six-year, $30 million deal.
No, Sunday was not a good day for the Islanders and Lamoriello, who probably is not smiling right now.