Time For Devils to Move on From John Quenneville

With the offseason rapidly approaching, New Jersey Devils general manager, Ray Shero has a lot of tough decisions to make when it comes to the team’s restricted and unrestricted free agents. One RFA, in particular, is former first-round pick John Quenneville.

The 23-year-old forward has become somewhat of a journeyman with the Devils since being drafted in 2014. He is a stellar contributor at the AHL level, but a fringe player at best in the NHL. He has recorded just five points in 33 career NHL games compared to 119 points (36 goals, 73 assists) in 138 games with the Albany/Binghamton Devils over the course of his first three seasons in the organization.

A Failed 2018-19 Season For Quenneville

Quenneville was supposed to be an every day NHL player by now. He broke training camp in September 2018 on the Devils’ main roster, but again, he failed to stick and was sent down to the minors.

John Quenneville (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

To his credit, he produced at a point-per-game pace in his first 19 games back in Binghamton after being demoted, but when he was called back up, he was pointless in his next 15 NHL games. To make matters worse, the Devils gave him ample opportunities to prove himself by giving him time on the ice in all situations, including the power play, but things just didn’t work out.

He finished the 2018-19 season with one point and a minus-1 rating in 19 NHL games. He did, however, manage to turn that one point into a game-winning goal against the Edmonton Oilers, but that’s about the only positive you can take away from this season.

Quenneville is Sliding Further Down the Depth Chart

It’s obvious that Quenneville has been passed over by a lot of different players in the organization. Since making his NHL debut at center in December 2016 and failing to become a mainstay on the pro roster, the Devils have used a number of different centers, including players they’ve signed or traded for because they needed more depth down the middle. Some of these players include Brian Boyle, Blake Coleman, Michael McLeod, Blake Speers and Kevin Rooney, amongst others.

Quenneville’s underlying numbers are even worse. Through his first three seasons, he has an expected goals-for percentage (xGF%) of just 4.5 (2016-17), 0.6 (2017-18) and 7.2 (2018-19) percent at five-on-five. He also has a career expected plus-minus (e+/-) of minus-3.9 at even strength and a dreadful 0.15 points per game.

It’s only going to get worse for him once the Devils draft Jack Hughes and/or sign Jesper Boqvist to an entry-level deal.

Let Quenneville Walk

While some might argue that it’s smart for the Devils to re-sign the former first-round pick and keep him around as a depth player in Binghamton, I think it would be better if they didn’t extend a qualifying offer and let him test the open market. A change of scenery would be good for both sides.

For Quenneville, perhaps a different NHL club or a potential career overseas could help him find himself. He still has a lot of talent, but things just aren’t clicking in New Jersey.

Devils left wing John Quenneville
Devils left wing John Quenneville (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)

For the Devils, getting rid of Quenneville in the AHL opens up the door for other young prospects to prove themselves. Instead of Quenneville being penciled into a top-six role for Binghamton on a nightly basis, other players like McLeod, Brett Seney or Mitchell Hoelscher would get that opportunity instead.

While nothing is certain at this point, it doesn’t seem like John Quenneville is part of the Devils’ future plans. It would be a win-win for both sides if they went their separate ways.