A veteran in the last year of his contract, a mid-range prospect, an extra first-round pick and a reasonable contract extension?
That's a nice bit of work to finish up on a Sunday night by Steve Yzerman to make the Detroit Red Wings look more like a playoff team.
Less than a week after he capped two busy days of free agency by saying he still wanted to add offensive firepower, Yzerman completed a deal for 40-goal scorer Alex DeBrincat. The Wings got the Farmington Hills native for Dominik Kubalik, Donovan Sebrango, and a conditional first-round pick and fourth-round pick in 2024.
The Wings locked up DeBrincat for four years with an annual average value of $7,875,000.
Let's break down what the Wings sent to the Ottawa Senators:
⋅ Kubalik, 27, is entering the last year of the two-year deal he was signed to last summer. He had a hot start his first season, but cooled off in the second half. He certainly wasn't a big piece of the rebuild.
⋅ Sebrango, 21, was drafted in the third round in 2020. He split this past season between the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins (seven points in 39 games) and ECHL's Toledo Walleye (12 points in 23 games). With Simon Edvinsson, William Wallinder, Antti Tuomisto, Albert Johansson and Eemil Viro in the immediate farm system, the Wings are pretty well stocked on defensemen prospects.
⋅ A conditional first-round pick. This is where the trade that sent Tyler Bertuzzi to the Boston Bruins in March is paying off, because the Wings can decide between using the Bruins' first-round pick (which is top-10 protected) or their own.
It seems a lopsided trade favoring the Wings, especially considering the Senators have to convince their fans they got a good deal in a transaction with a team that is a direct competitor within the Atlantic Division for a playoff spot.
DeBrincat is coming off a subpar year, but for him, that means 27 goals and 66 points in 82 games. The season before, in 2021-22, he posted his second career 41-goal season with the Chicago Blackhawks. He adds the scoring power the Wings have needed, and suddenly makes their whole lineup look more likely to end what has become a seven-year stretch of missing the playoffs. Now the Wings can assemble their top two lines from options including DeBrincat, Larkin, Raymond, David Perron, Robby Fabbri, just-signed J.T. Compher and Daniel Sprong, and Andrew Copp. The bottom six will be better for having a deeper top six.
DeBrincat's arrival ameliorates parting with Jakub Vrana, whose three-year employment by the Wings was marked by absences (injuries, a stay in the Players Association program) and unfulfilled potential. DeBrincat has missed only four games in the six seasons he has been in the NHL. He has topped 20 goals in five of those seasons (and scored 18 in the one he didn't).
Within the Atlantic, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers project as playoff teams going into next season. The Bruins are coming off a record-setting season, but their roster has taken several hits, and they appear to be trending downwards. The Tampa Bay Lightning's window appears to be closing. The Senators just subtracted a 40-goal scorer for Kubalik, who has one 20-goal season the last three years. The Buffalo Sabres have been steadily improving and should make the playoffs one of these years. The Montreal Canadiens are further behind in their rebuild.
Mid-July is awfully early to start making playoff predictions, of course, but Yzerman has given the Wings the scorer they needed, and he has done it without giving up a top prospect, without denying the Wings a first-round pick (they will have either their own or Boston's next season) and he has done it without sacrificing term or money on a new deal.
With DeBrincat on the roster, the Wings undeniably look much more attractive.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Red Wings steal Alex DeBrincat in trade, look like playoff team