Over the offseason, the New York Islanders were supposedly heavily involved in trade discussions with the Ottawa Senators to acquire forward Alex DeBrincat.
A former two-time 40-goal scorer, DeBrincat seemed an ideal fit for an Islanders team that lacked an elite scoring punch. In exchange for DeBrincat, the Islanders reportedly offered Ottawa a package centered around Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom.
However, DeBrincat, a native of Farmington Hills, Michigan, preferred to head home and was dealt to the Detroit Red Wings.
Islanders president of hockey operations and general manager Lou Lamoriello wasn’t at fault for that. But since DeBrincat arrived in Detroit, he’s been everything the Islanders hoped he’d be for them.
DeBrincat’s nine goals with the Red Wings currently lead the NHL, and his presence is impacting the rest of the team.
Alex DeBrincat (@Brinksy97) has NINE goals this season! 🚨
— NHL (@NHL) October 25, 2023
Detroit ranks top-five in both goals per game and power-play percentage thus far after being around league average in both categories last year.
Meanwhile, the Islanders have shown some improvement in those areas but are still in the bottom half of the league in scoring.
Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin has seen his numbers improve with DeBrincat joining him on the top line. His 15 points are second among all skaters.
If the Islanders acquired DeBrincat during the offseason, head coach Lane Lambert likely would’ve played him with Bo Horvat and Mathew Barzal. Instead, Horvat and Barzal have worked with a couple of different left wings in Anders Lee and Simon Holmstrom.
Neither has necessarily held back Horvat and Barzal, but one can only imagine how the duo would be performing if they had DeBrincat alongside.
If the Islanders manage to stay in playoff contention, expect them to once again be heavily involved in discussions to acquire an elite scoring winger around the trade deadline. But with the trade market looking sparse and the Islanders being tight against the NHL’s salary cap, swinging a deal for a player comparable to DeBrincat will be easier said than done.
With the Red Wings in town for a matchup tonight at UBS Arena, the Islanders get to play against what they so desperately want for themselves.