Newly-acquired forward Alex DeBrincat excited to join the Senators

Alex DeBrincat and the Ottawa Senators have mutual goals and each side is hoping the other will be the key to fulfilling them.

'Until it actually happens it doesn't really hit you,' says winger

Chicago left wing Alex DeBrincat against the San Jose Sharks during an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., April 23, 2022. Chicago sent DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators for the seventh and 39th pick this year and a third-rounder in 2024. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

Alex DeBrincat and the Ottawa Senators have mutual goals and each side is hoping the other will be the key to fulfilling them.

The Senators acquired the 24-year-old DeBrincat from Chicago in a trade Thursday just hours before the start of the NHL draft.

Senators general manager Pierre Dorion gave up three draft picks in the deal, including Ottawa's first- (No. 7) and second-round selections (No. 39) this year and a third-round pick in 2024.

DeBrincat admitted Friday that he was caught off guard when he first learned of the trade.

"I saw some rumours and stuff, but until it actually happens it doesn't really hit you," he told reporters on a conference call. "So I was definitely shocked, but I'm really excited to join this group."

The Senators, who finished the season in 26th place overall at 33-42-7, had anticipated taking a step towards playoff contention and were disappointed to be near the bottom of the standings yet again.

Prior to last season's trade deadline, Dorion said: "It's no secret for us to get to the next level we need another top-six forward and a top-four defenceman, but those don't just grow on trees."

In DeBrincat, who had 78 points in 82 games this season, they have a bonafide top-six forward. The young winger joins a group of impressive forwards that includes Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris, Tim Stutzle and Drake Batherson.

Drafted by Chicago in the second round (39th overall) of the 2016 NHL draft, DeBrincat has quieted naysayers who questioned his size.

Listed at five foot seven and 165 pounds, DeBrincat had a career-high 78 points (41-37) last season. It was the second time he hit the 40-goal mark in his five-year NHL career.

A natural right-handed shot, DeBrincat also offers the Senators versatility since he can play on either wing. He has one year remaining on his contract, which carries a $6.4-million US cap hit.

The Senators can begin negotiations on a new deal as early as July 13 when free agency opens, but DeBrincat said he hasn't given it much thought yet.

Winger will retain No. 12

The Farmington Hills, Mich., native said he was preparing to be part of Chicago's rebuild and take on more of a leadership role. With 368 career games played, he'll be one of the more experienced players in the Senators' young lineup.

"Obviously throughout the years in Chicago my leadership grew as we got younger and younger," he said. "I think that was a big step I took these past couple years and hopefully I can bring this same attitude and leadership to Ottawa."

Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot sent welcome messages to DeBrincat and he said he's excited to get to know his new teammates better.

He will continue to wear No. 12 after forward Shane Pinto sent him a text Friday offering to let him have the number.

DeBrincat's older brother, Andrew, played in Ottawa during the 2012-13 season with the Nepean Raiders and Cumberland Grads of the Central Canada Hockey League.

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