There's been a lot of discussion this summer about the defensive logjam the Wings had going into training camp this season - with the resignings of Andreas Lilja and Brad Stuart as well as Chris Chelios, once again there wasn't a lot of wiggle room for the kids (even with Chelios out the team is only around $450,000 under the cap) - most of whom aren't really kids anymore and are ready for their own legitimate chance to perform in the NHL. The summer closed out with the defensive roster looking like this:
Obviously not going anywhere: Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart, Chris Chelios.However, Mike Babcock determined that the start of the season would see Lilja/Lebda as the third defensive pairing, as it was during the Stanley Cup Finals this past season and this afternoon Ericsson was sent to Grand Rapids as he can still freely move between teams without being subject to waivers, making the likelihood of his being traded nearly nothing. The moves left the final spot a battle between Meech and Quincey, and it appears that Meech has won as the team is trying to shop Quincey around.
Maybe going somewhere: Andreas Lilja, Brett Lebda, Derek Meech, Kyle Quincey, Jonathan Ericsson.
The club likes the 23-year-old Quincey's size (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) and the physical element he brings, but believes Derek Meech, a better skater and puck-handler, has a bigger upside.
Meech, who also can play forward in a pinch, has outplayed Quincey in training camp and the preseason. The Red Wings likely are seeking a mid- to late-round draft pick for Quincey, who can't be assigned to Grand Rapids (AHL) without clearing waivers.
It has seemed a little bit inevitable since the start of the summer, but I personally was holding out hope that perhaps it wouldn't come to this. Having lived in Kalamazoo for the past four years, I caught a lot of Griffins games and Quincey quickly became one of my favorites. However, aside from a chance during the Cup Semi-finals agains the Ducks in 06-07, Quincey never really got a chance to break into the big leagues - the Wings are just too deep a team with too much talent to make it easy. During that run, all that was asked of Quincey was that he not mess up - a feat that he accomplished admirably. His attempts to join the team last season were stymied by an injury and the first part of his season with Grand Rapids was mediocre, but he bounced back after another short stint with the Wings to end the season on a high note.
In the end, Derek Meech may be the better fit for the Wings' puck possession style of play - but Kyle Quincey shouldn't be overlooked. He's proven himself to be an NHL-ready stay at home defenseman and even studied this summer under fellow Wing Aaron Downey to improve his enforcer-type skill set in attempt to fit himself into a niche and help the team.
I had the chance to meet Quincey at a signing at Gibraltar Trade Center recently - of the three signers (Quincey, Jimmy Howard, and Brett Lebda), Quincey's ticket cost the least, and when I stepped up to purchase one the lady behind the desk told me she'd sold less of his than the others by far. Quincey, however, was gracious - he signed my glossy and even took a few moments to chat. I told him I'd followed him in Grand Rapids and hoped to get to see more of him with the big club this year and he replied that he really hoped he'd be sticking around and would get a chance to do just that. Throughout the whole event his name was misspelled 'Quincy' everywhere it appeared - poor kid. (And incredible failure on the part of the staff - really? How authentic do you think a certificate that "Kyle Quincy" signed your item is?)
I'll be sad to see him go - I've always seen him to have a valuable skill set and a lot of dedication. But perhaps, not unlike the way Kerri at Some Like it Blue suggest about the Rangers and Petr Prucha, it's time for he and the Wings to part, in the hope that he can flourish somewhere where he has a better chance - and not to knock the Wings or their fans, only to lament the circumstances - to flourish. It can't be easy on a star-studded team that never seems to lose anybody, and there are likely many teams in the league that would take on a big, young, tough, fairly responsible defenseman with the sort of personality Quincey possesses.
Therefore if you go, Kyle - and it looks like you will - know that someone here in Detroit really did appreciate you and will miss you. All the best wherever you end up, hopefully somewhere that's a good fit - and thanks for not being too creeped out when I spent a good chunk of Griffins warm up time with my camera focused on you.