The Tampa Bay Lightning stayed busy on Tuesday with their third move in the span of a week. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman dealt Dominic Moore to the San Jose Sharks last Thursday, moved Pavel Kubina to the Philadelphia Flyers the next day, and then yesterday picked up Kyle Quincey from Colorado in exchange for Steve Downie, before dealing Quincey to Detroit for a first round pick just minutes later.
Hats off to Yzerman, who is now holding two first-rounders and three second-rounders in the upcoming draft. The Lightning will have all kinds of trade clout in the offseason, likely for goaltending, in addition to their ability to build through the early rounds of the draft.
The picks could even come in handy this week, as despite the handful of deals already done, Yzerman claims that the Lightning will be deadline buyers.
Regardless of Yzerman's plans, the real question raised by yesterday deal comes from Detroit. How on earth is Kyle Quincey worth a first-round pick?
First, it's worth while to see what made the Wings desperate enough to dump a first-rounder, likely a late pick, for a defenseman who, though very talented, was not even the most sought-after defenseman in deadline rumors this winter.
While Detroit has had an impressive run of late, winning seven of their last 10 and a league-record 23 straight at home, their road record pales in comparison. Following last night's loss in Chicago, the Wings are 15-16-1 away from Joe Louis Arena.
With Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart headed for free agency this summer, and Lidstrom's potential retirement, the Red Wings could have some serious holes to address. If those two were to depart, Detroit's most reliable defenseman for next season would be Niklas Kronwall and Ian White, who would need a new contract next summer.
So the reasons for acquiring a young defenseman like Quincey, a 27 year-old who the Wings originally drafted in 2003, are valid. But what makes Quincey worthy of a first-round pick in June?
The Red Wings newest addition has 23 points this season in 54 games. His highest career point total in a season was with the Kings in 2009, when he recorded 38. That is the only season in which Quincey has topped 30 points. In addition, his 2009-10 campaign with Colorado was the only season in which Quincey posted a positive plus-minus ranking in his four full seasons.
None of these stats make Quincey a bad hockey player. He is, in fact, a talented d-man and it's important for them to sign him to an extension quickly. However, Quincey, a restricted free agent this summer, could probably use his sale price (first round pick) to negotiate a pricier contract in arbitration, regardless of what he does in Detroit this spring.
Currently, Quincey's cap hit is a modest $3.125 million.
But in terms of that first-round pick he was dealt for, here's a little bit of perspective. Including Quincey, only seven players have been traded at the deadline for first round picks since 2006-07:
- In 2007, the Sharks acquired Bill Guerin from the St. Louis Blues, sending their first-rounder the other way in a package deal. The Oilers received a first round pick for a teary-eyed Ryan Smyth, who they sent to the Islanders.
- The Sharks again dealt their first round selection in 2008, this time to Buffalo, for defenseman Brian Campbell.
- The Penguins acquired Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis from Atlanta in 2008, sending a first-rounder in the package the other way. Oddly enough, Dupuis, who appeared a throw-in at the time, has had the lasting effect in Pittsburgh and not Hossa.
- In 2009, a conditional first-round pick packaged Olli Jokinen from the Coyotes to the Flames. In 2011, Dustin Penner earned the Oilers a first-round pick when he departed for Los Angeles.
Now while Penner and Jokinen obviously haven't performed to their expectations, at the time they were dealt they were at the very least the most sought after deadline commodities. Such certainly cannot be said for Quincey.
What does this do to the prices of this year's market now?
Jim Rutherford's request for a first round pick for Tuomo Ruutu--laughable a few weeks ago-- seems much more reasonable now should he not resign, doesn't it?
Ales Hemsky may be having his worst season since 2004, but at his age and track record, can't Jeff Tambellini at least push a first-round pick into the conversation?
And how much higher can the price now go for Rick Nash? A first-round choice was already sure to be one part of any package that would land the Blue Jackets captain, but if Quincey is worth that much, then Nash certainly can garner additional picks and maybe even multiple roster players to boot.
In dealing their draft pick for Quincey, the Wings have effectively played the role of the first free agent to sign on July 1st. The Wings have set the market.
Now that a floor has been set, which GMs are going to be willing to overpay to get that final piece for a playoff push? Will this throw water on the deadline fire, making the likes of Nash or Carter too rich for any GM's blood? And who will take a chance on a deal, only to be ridiculed for it by the likes of us a mere five years down the road?
For the Red Wings, a team with a terrific record of late-round drafting, dealing a late first-round selection perhaps wasn't too intimidating. But the repercussions on the rest of the market will be fascinating.
In any event, it may end up surprisingly possible to argue that, in terms of its effect on the league, Kyle Quincey was be the most important player dealt at this year's deadline.