One of the best remaining defensive options available on the open market, Kyle Quincey is somewhat of a tragic tale. After being selected in the fourth round by Detroit, he slowly crawled towards the NHL but could never establish himself on the Red Wings’ blueline. It took a waiver claim by Los Angeles – then a bottom-feeder of the NHL – to give him his chance, and he ran with it.
Playing in 72 games for the Kings that year, Quincey put up what would turn out to be a career-high 38 points, including a whopping 25 assists on the powerplay. Though he wasn’t considered an excellent offensive defenseman, the Kings just didn’t have many other options then – a 19-year old Drew Doughty was still learning the game, and Jack Johnson was injured for much of the season.
In July of that year, still rehabbing a herniated disc that cut short his season, Quincey was the centerpiece in a deal with the Avalanche for Ryan Smyth, a key member in the turnaround the Kings experienced a year later. In joining Colorado, Quincey – still just 24 – was on his third team already in his young career.
Colorado wouldn’t keep him around very long either, as they dealt the young blueliner back to his original Detroit Red Wings mid-season in 2011-12 (via Tampa Bay, who received a first-round pick in the transaction). He was back with the team who wouldn’t give him a chance in the first place, and immediately saw his numbers plummet again. He’d see the ice 36 times in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, but only logged three points all season.
Still, the Red Wings thought of him enough to hand him a two-year, $8.5MM deal on July 1st of 2014, even though he qualified as an unrestricted free agent and could have chosen anywhere else (that would have him).
Now, with that deal expired, the Red Wings have shown no interest in keeping Quincey around, and have moved on to other options. He now represents one of the best options left available, if you believe his early career success can be replicated in any way.
Before free agency started, we had Quincey on our Top 50 UFA list going to the Minnesota Wild, and it still seems to be a fit, though there has been no discussion about the 30-year old thus far in the media. Having given deals to both Eric Staal and Chris Stewart as they try to rebuild there value, it’s clear the team is willing to try and re-energize former stars on short-term deals.
Another possibility would be that of the Edmonton Oilers, despite already bringing in Adam Larsson and Mark Fraser. Though they look to have too many (luke-warm) bodies already, expect a few of them to be shipped out by the start of the season. If the team is committed to rebuilding a blueline that was horrible last year, Quincey could be a nice option on a bottom pairing to help some of the youngsters (Darnell Nurse, Jordan Oesterle or Brandon Davidson) develop into legitimate NHL defensemen.
Needing to rebuild his value, Quincey will probably take a fairly low number on a short-term deal to prove that he’s still an effective NHL blueliner. With advanced metrics disliking his play the last few seasons, he looks to be in the same boat as fellow unsigned free agent Kris Russell, in that teams are moving towards possession-based metrics, especially for their defense.
The thing that Quincey has going for him, is that he was once regarded positively in this manner, and with a change of scenery and correct role he could be again. Only 30 years old, he’ll try to secure as much as Roman Polak did for the Leafs (one year, $2.25MM), but – amazingly – might not even get that.