The only thing that’s saving the Red Wings’ cap situation right now is injuries. Since the season started it’s been evident that someone needs to be moved from this roster and other teams notice that. No one seems to be in any hurry to make a deal with the Wings unless it benefits them greatly, hence Samuelsson hasn’t gone anywhere and guys like Tootoo and Eaves are playing in the minors. One potential solution is being thrown around this morning that makes a lot of sense: Trading Kyle Quincey.
The world’s most adored beat reporter Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press laid out the argument in an article this morning and it’s hard to say it wouldn’t be a huge relief to the Wings. Essentially, a story is playing out that has been playing out all season. When it comes time for Dan DeKeyser and his $925,000 cap hit to come off LTIR, the Red Wings can’t do it, because they have a whooping $31,000 in cap space right now. The Wings have been trying to move a forward since before the season even began, to no avail. the Wings could put Datsyuk or Zetterberg on LTIR if their injuries could warrant it (10 games and 24 days) but this of course puts them in the exact same situation when it comes time to take the Euro-twins off injured reserve. Rather than kicking the can further down the road and giving Ken Holland a headache at the end of the month instead of now, what the Wings desperately need is cap space.
Enter Kyle Quincey and his $3.775 million cap hit. At 28-years-old, he’s probably at the height of his career as a defenseman. The NHL just so happens to be in a situation where serviceable defensemen are worth their weight in gold. St. James makes the argument that the Wings should hope to flip him for a cheaper veteran. Personally, seeing him go for a pick would be great. The $3.775 million would be enough to bring DeKeyser off LTIR as well as call up Eaves or Tootoo should they choose to do so. The only Wings defenseman left in a contract year is DeKeyser, who is a RFA coming off his entry-level deal. This leaves the Wings with a defensive core of Kronwall/Ericsson, DeKeyser/Smith, and Lashoff/Kindl for this year as well as going into next, with plenty of prospects ready to step up if someone is out for a while.
All things considered, I don’t really want to see Quincey go. I feel like he takes a lot of blame when things go bad and fans overlook the fact that he has grown a lot as a defenseman over the past year or so. What he may always be remembered for is the defenseman that cost Detroit a first-round pick and just didn’t live up to expectations (Detroit didn’t draft him in the first round but traded to get him back in 2012 with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who used the pick to select goalie Andre Vasilveski). He has been considerably better this year but there just isn’t much of an alternative. The Wings can’t dump someone like Samuelsson in the minors because under the new CBA they’d have to retain his salary (Thanks for ruining that for everyone, New York Rangers). The Wings don’t have a lot of trade partners for under-achieving forwards like Dan Cleary. It’s a situation where they ultimately have to give something to get something, even if that something they get is cap space.
There’s no shortage of teams that could use another defenseman, and I’d expect multiple teams to offer something up for Kyle Quincey. I’d be sad to see him go, but that could also be said about most anyone on this team at this point. But the sad reality of it all is that Quincey’s cap relief would almost be more valuable to the team right now then he has been as a player. That’s no knock on Quincey, that’s just how much the Wings need cap space right now.