Red Wings getting exactly what they hoped for from Alex DeBrincat

Alex DeBrincat's hot start doesn't indicate that he's become a brand-new player — but he is giving Detroit precisely what it needs.

Even nine days into the NHL season, Alex DeBrincat is not the kind of player you expect to lead the league in points.

Not only has the two-time 40-goal scorer never topped 78 points in a season, he's also adjusting to new teammates after an offseason trade to the Detroit Red Wings.

Cleary the 25-year-old is settling in nicely, however, with his third NHL team in the last three seasons, as he has eight points in his first four games — helping the Red Wings post a surprising 3-1-0 record.

There's undoubtedly some small-sample-size nonsense associated with the veteran's hot start. He's scored on 38.5% of his shots, and not all of his prolific goal-scoring is skill-driven.

Not only does he have an empty-net goal to his name, but he also got a flukey long wrist shot to find a hole against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

It should surprise no one that DeBrincat hasn't become a new player since joining his hometown team.

After taking heat in Ottawa for being too reliant on power-play opportunities to produce, four of his first eight points with the Red Wings have come with the man advantage.

Alex DeBrincat is off to a great start with Detroit. (Kirthmon F. Dozier-USA TODAY Sports)
Alex DeBrincat is off to a great start with Detroit. (Kirthmon F. Dozier-USA TODAY Sports)

He still starts the majority of his shifts in the offensive zone (55.6 oZS%), he hasn't become a defensive force, and his workload has been relatively modest with the Red Wings so far (17:12 TOI/game). It would be an exaggeration to call DeBrincat a situational player, but he's a guy who's much better in some spots than others.

The former Senator and Chicago Blackhawk is not a franchise player, and his early-season hot streak shouldn't be interpreted as evidence that he's ready to lift that team to a new level.

Despite his massive point total, Red Wings fans can find more reasons for optimism in the club's sturdy 5v5 play (54.85% shot share and 53.78% expected goals for) than DeBrincat's brilliance.

To be fair to the winger, he's had some excellent moments — like this deadly wrister out of a scramble for his first goal with Detroit.

What we're seeing now out of DeBrincat is simply the best version of his established formula. That's precisely what Detroit needs from him, though.

Last season the Red Wings were 24th in the NHL in goals scored (2.89/game), and didn't have any player other than Dylan Larkin score more than 25. The team's power play ranked a middling 17th in the NHL, converting on 21.1% of its opportunities.

A player like DeBrincat, who puts the puck in the net and is capable of being a key contributor in 5v4 situations, is precisely what the team needed.

While the percentage of his production that comes with the man advantage has invited scrutiny at times, the 65 power-play goals he's scored since debuting in 2017-18 rank 11th among all NHL players — one behind Connor McDavid.

In the weeks to come DeBrincat will likely see his production dip and the Red Wings aren't going to keep up a .750 winning percentage, but the early returns on this deal have been strong for Detroit.

While DeBrincat isn't a perfect player by any means, his strengths mesh well with what his new team needs. So far that's made for quite the homecoming.