It’s already likely that the decision is made and it’s even likelier that it won’t be a reunion with the Chicago Blackhawks. Alex DeBrincat can be an immediate boost to a team trying to win a Stanley Cup or one trying to finally exit a rebuild for good.
So no, the timeline isn’t exactly in Chicago’s favor. Or is it? In the first of two parts, here’s a look at why a reunion with DeBrincat could make sense.
#1: Blackhawks Hold the Leverage
Ottawa clearly isn’t going to hold onto him. They don’t want to pay the salary he’ll command, which could be in the $9 million range and if they want to deal him, they’ll want him out of the division and the conference. Chicago can easily afford this as they have cap space galore.
He’s also due for unrestricted free agency in a season, which means any team taking him will want guarantees that he’ll re-sign long term. So the contingency to even unload him is checking a number of boxes.
This means Ottawa won’t likely come close to the return Chicago gave up at the 2022 Draft last season. Maybe it’s where Tampa Bay’s pick at #19 comes into play? Perhaps a pair of the second round picks the Blackhawks hold could do the trick. They’re also flush with prospect depth at center and defense. Though that’s where it gets dicey. Davidson is not likely to give up players who could potentially be major pieces down the road.
Another team can certainly offer more. But Ottawa is backed into a corner and the Blackhawks could exploit it.
#2: DeBrincat Would Create a Lethal Top Line
From the NHL’s story following the trade, DeBrincat was shocked but excited to join a younger team on the rise.
“The immediate reaction was just shock,” DeBrincat said Friday. “I saw some rumors and stuff but until it actually happens, it doesn’t really hit you. So, I was definitely shocked. But now I’m really excited to join this group. Obviously, a young core that’s ready to compete, to play in the playoffs, hopefully a good team and win some games this year turn in the right direction. I’m happy to be a part of that.”
Happy to be part of a young core he said? With Connor Bedard to be in the fold, wouldn’t it be something to see him and DeBrincat tallying highlight reel goals? DeBrincat is a proven goal scorer with an NHL pedigree and two 41-goal seasons to his name. Sure his numbers were down some last season, but Bedard stands to be a game changer. He had one of those in Patrick Kane, too.
All of this and he’s still just 25 years of age.
#3: The Blackhawks Know What They’re Getting with Alex DeBrincat
DeBrincat was beloved in the city and it would only build up anticipation and excitement if they brought him back for the right price. The Blackhawks also know the type of player they’re getting in DeBrincat as well as the character piece.
The forward got a video montage when he returned with Ottawa. This tends to make one think he wouldn’t return again, but stranger things have happened in hockey.
There are reasons to believe he could potentially come back to Chicago. But the likelier outcome is that DeBrincat goes elsewhere as Davidson has seemingly wanted to create a new foundation with new faces not tied to the past.
That will be what Chicago Hockey Now looks at on the other side of the debate in tomorrow’s entry.