Kyle Quincey Provides Red Wings With Much Needed Defensive Depth

On Tuesday the Detroit Red Wings made their first splash into the trade market, acquiring defenseman Kyle Quincey from the Tampa Bay Lightning (who had acquired him from the Colorado Avalanche earlier in the day) for AHL’er Sebastien Piche and their 1st round pick in the 2012 NHL draft, in what was an execution of a relationship I previously suggested could be used as the trade deadline neared.

Was the high pick too much to pay for Quincey? With the Red Wings probability of finishing among the top 5 in the league very high, and a draft class generally considered to be fairly shallow, it wouldn’t appear so. Detroit wants to win now, and a draft pick wont help them do that.

If the name Kyle Quincey sounds familiar to you, it’s because he’s a former Red Wings draft pick (132nd overall, 2003) who was lost to the Los Angeles Kings on waivers in 2008. At the time of his departure, the young puck-moving defenseman had played in just 26 games with the team over 3 seasons and 1 trip to the playoffs.

Upon arriving in LA, Quincey exploded for 38 points in 72 games during his first and only season with the team, but thanks to a talented cast of young defensemen, the Kings found Quincey to be expendable, and traded him to the Colorado Avalanche during the offseason. In his first season with Colorado, Quincey had 29 points in 76 games. John-Michael Liles was the only Avalanche defender to have more points than him that season (31)

As the Avalanche’s leader in ice time this season, Quincey has notched 5 goals and 18 assists in 54 games, tied for the most of any defenseman on that roster (and 1 fewer than Detroit’s own Niklas Kronwall). All of this, for a cap hit of slightly less than the Red Wings’ Jonathan Ericcsson ($3.125m & $3.250m respectively).

So what makes this deal so appealing for Detroit? Primarily, the defensive depth it gives them.

Last week I detailed why I believed Detroit should make a move of just this nature in the wake of Patrick Eaves’ ongoing concussion struggles. It lends them one more experienced body, should everything go wrong.

Quincey has 19 games of playoff experience to his name, and while it’s not a staggering amount, it’s more than the likes of Jakub Kindl, whom he’ll likely be replacing as a member of Detroit’s 3rd defensive pairing. In addition to this, Quincey brings regular season experience and an offensive threat to Detroit’s lowest line of defense.

In 60 games this season Jonathan Ericsson has 10 points, the same as his frequent partner Jakub Kindl, who has played in 46 games this season. Adding in someone of Quincey’s stature and experience can only bode well for whomever he’s paired with (again, likely Ericsson).

It wouldn’t be wise to try to tie Quincey down to one pairing though. Part of his allure is his mobility. His versatility. He can play anywhere, at any time, and with anyone.

Should Quincey play as well as expected, the added defensive security could be used to limit the 41-year-old Nicklas Lidstrom’s ice time as the team heads towards another playoff run. A rested Lidstrom is a better, more effective Lidstrom, and an invaluable asset for the team.

The news of this deal doesn’t come without its speculated drawbacks though.

“It certainly appears to me that Mr. Ken Holland is looking at Quincey as a replacement for Stuart next season.” – Nightmare On Helm Street

Brad Stuart Red Wings
Does this move mean Brad Stuart is on the way out? (Icon SMI)

Stuart, who has expressed indecision as to whether he would like to stay with the team or relocate to a franchise closer to his family, could very well be on the way out. Red Wings GM Ken Holland has already stated that he would like to sign Quincey (who is an RFA at the end of the season) and keep him in Detroit, and has expressed regret for ever letting Quincey get away.

If both Stuart and Quincey are to stay, it may spell the departure of Jakub Kindl, and perhaps in the coming days.

Kindl’s bright future may not be a necessity for the Wings. The rise of prospect Brendan Smith may soon eclipse that of Kindl. Detroit could potentially use Kindl to attack another glaring need, more depth in the forward position.

Ken Holland hinted at that need during an interview before Detroit’s Tuesday night game in Chicago, stating that the team was likely done on defense and in net, but would “kick tires” around the league inquiring about a depth forward for the right price.

All speculation aside, Detroit easily possesses one of the best defensive lineups in the league, and whether or not all those pieces stay beyond this season, for now, wont be a major concern. It’s clear that the only thing on Detroit’s mind is making another run at the Stanley Cup. Kyle Quincey, for one, is very excited about that run:

“By far that’s the biggest plus coming to Detroit, winning. Being there and being able to watch (in 2008, as a Black Ace) and be a very small part of that, you want to get back to that. This is a chance to do it. I’m excited to be part of that playoff push and be on the ice and matter and count.”