Alex DeBrincat Trade Shows New Jersey Devils Made Right Choice With Jesper Bratt

Alex DeBrincat #12 and Tim Stützle #18 of the Ottawa Senators. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Alex DeBrincat #12 and Tim Stützle #18 of the Ottawa Senators. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils signed Jesper Bratt to an eight-year deal last month, keeping one of their biggest pieces in the locker room for a long time. This felt like a deal that was a long time coming. The Devils had gone through two terrible negotiations with Bratt, and it looked like this offseason was going towards a third.

Then, Bratt signed for the maximum term and for under $8 million per season. It was a huge win for the Devils and Tom Fitzgerald, who wasn’t playing around with arbitration this season. The Devils and Bratt went down to the wire last offseason, agreeing to a one-year deal literally the morning of arbitration. Now, Fitzgerald has Bratt locked up for almost a decade.

Fast forward to this week. Remember last offseason when everyone had a conniption that the Devils didn’t trade the second-overall pick to the Chicago Blackhawks to get Alex DeBrincat? He went to the Ottawa Senators, who sent a massive package that included the seventh-overall pick.

Then, DeBrincat made it pretty clear he wanted to play for the Detroit Red Wings. The Senators tried to drum up a trade market, and they tried to re-sign him. Neither worked and now he’s in Detroit.

Even with DeBrincat demanding his trade and going to his favorite team, he still signed for only four years and around the same money as Bratt ($7.8 million for DeBrincat; $7.875 million for Bratt). These two players are very similar. They both have a ceiling of about 90 points (although that’s unlikely). DeBrincat is a better scorer, but Bratt is a better passer. They both rely on confidence and momentum to drive their consistency.

DeBrincat also only brought the Senators a first-round pick (which won’t come close to seventh overall in all likelihood), a 20-goal scorer in Dominik Kubalik, a fourth-round pick, and their 14th-ranked prospect Donovan Sebrango. Kubalik is a decent player, but he likely found his ceiling of 20 goals and 45 points (his 30-goal rookie season was clearly an outlier). The prospect has a long road to the NHL, so it’s down to the first-round pick. Since the Senators already traded a first for DeBrincat, it’s likely a downgrade in prospect.

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The Senators dilemma showed how bad it could have been for Fitzgerald if the Bratt situation had gone differently. Clearly, Bratt wanted to grow with this group of young Devils. DeBrincat didn’t care about that in Ottawa (missing expectations in the standings did not help). Bratt’s return might not have been what Devils fans would hope for, and he could have been harder in his negotiations. Instead, he’s signed with the Devils until 2031, and Devils fans should celebrate that fact.