As the 2022-23 NHL regular season comes to a close, some teams are gearing up for the playoffs while others start crafting their battle plans for the offseason. For the non-playoff teams, it’s all about the breadcrumbs being dropped about potential trades and free agent rumors, and even on day one of the offseason, there is already a spicy rumor out there.
Ottawa Senators’ forward Alex DeBrincat has indicated that he is unlikely to sign an extension in the offseason and will more than likely get traded away after just one season with the club. DeBrincat posted 27 goals and 66 points in 82 games this season. He’s now 25 years old and a restricted free agent with a $9 million qualifying offer.
Chuck Fletcher and the Flyers supposedly sniffed around and eventually passed on acquiring him from Chicago last summer, and now they’ll have a chance to circle back and fix their mistake, but do they?
He’s a scorer
The one major takeaway from the 2022-23 season was that the Flyers roster showed plenty of talent, but just didn’t have the skill to truly make any noise. Adding a guy who historically hovers around the 30-40 goal, 60-75 point range as well as finishing 24th in the league on shots on goal this season with a whopping 263 (easily more than anybody on the Flyers) could be the kind of spark the roster desperately needs.
Fits the timeline
He’s 25 years old, which is right in line with the age group of most of the foundational pieces on the current Flyers roster. Konecny, Tippett, Cates, Frost, Provorov, Hart and York are all either side of 25. It may be slightly older than they’d ideally be looking for, but if the main argument against Johnny Gaudreau last summer was his age, beggars can’t be choosers when DeBrincat is on the table.
Plays left wing
With James Van Riemsdyk’s contract mercifully coming to an end and Joel Farabee’s uncertain play, it has really exposed a hole at top six left wing. There’s an abundance of right wingers on the main roster and in the system that may get shuffled over there, but having one player that can comfortably play on the left side and serve as an insurance option for Farabee seems like a smart play from a roster construction perspective.
The Flyers are “Rebuilding”
Danny Briere has made one thing very clear during his early days- the Flyers are rebuilding. Now, what exactly that means is still TBD, but it sure feels like a built-in excuse to remain quiet when it comes to pursuing a high-end player like DeBrincat. He fits the age range and covers a need on the team, but hey, they’re rebuilding! They can’t add players that would improve the team, they’d rather draft someone and hope they become as good as DeBrincat in five years from now.
Two price tags
The biggest problem with DeBrincat is his RFA status. It means the Flyers would have to acquire his rights via trade, a price that may not be stupidly high on its own, but the Flyers wouldn’t be the only interested party which will jack up that trade value, and if they land him, they have to re-sign him, and as noted earlier, he has a $9 million qualifying offer. Yes, he’s a player that should pique their interest, but is now the time to empty the back on a winger?
DeBrincat’s refusal to sign with the Senators does does beg the question as to what he’s looking for?
They’re a young team on the rise that finished the season just six points out of a playoff spot. If they had even half decent goaltending they probably could’ve snuck in to the postseason.
Seems worth noting DeBrincat is American and probably doesn’t like the idea of spending the rest his career in Canada. He’s not the first player to make that decision. Though there were rumors last summer that he was non-comital about his future for any team that acquired him from the Blackhawks.
If you’re a regular Brotherly Puck reader, you know we pushed hard for the Flyers to pursue Alex DeBrincat last summer during Chuck Fletcher’s legendary “aggressive retool” which never came to fruition. Now there’s a chance to correct their mistake and once again hunt down DeBrincat from the Senators this offseason.
The reality of the situation seems obvious- rebuilding or not, how many times does an opportunity arise to snag a player with the skill level of DeBrincat? Especially since they already passed on him once, it may be time to take a real hard look at him again.
At the end of the day, the roster desperately needs skill. It’s something pretty much everyone would be in agreement on.
In a season when they champion Travis Konecny hitting 30 goals and 60 points, or Owen Tippett and Morgan Frost flirting with 50 points, you’d think everyone would also agree that adding DeBrincat- of similar age and slightly higher ceiling- would be a smart, beneficial thing to do. Though based on the early social media feedback, that opinion isn’t shared by everyone.
It’s important to remember that adding a player like DeBrincat makes everyone around him better too. It’s not DeBrincat vs Konecny, it’s both of them working together on the same team. Having someone who has experience scoring at a near-point-per-game clip through the entirety of his career like DeBrincat would be a big boost to play alongside Konecny or Tippett or Frost.
Danny Briere’s first season at the helm of the Flyers comes at a critical point in the franchise’s history and he’s going to need to make an impact one way or another. A great way to do that (and especially to separate himself from the lingering Chuck Fletcher stigma he carries with him) would be to set the tone early and put his own stamp on the team, and DeBrincat would be a great way to do that. Does Briere sack up and pay the price? We’ll soon find out, but if he doesn’t, there better be an ace up his sleeve and a legitimate plan in place because if this team struggles to score again next season, it’s going to be a real bad foot for Briere to start his GMing career off on.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com