While the Red Wings failed to land any big free-agent prizes—such as they were, given this summer’s weak pool—they did manage to complete one deal.
That general manager Ken Holland decided to re-sign defenseman Kyle Quincey wasn’t entirely perplexing. That he decided to do so on July 1—and give Quincey a raise—was wholly befuddling.
If one is a fan of the Red Wings, there’s no need to delve deep into the year that was for Quincey in order to state that his 2013-14 campaign was equal parts terrible and mediocre.
Now, the Red Wings were certainly under some pressure on July 1 to secure somebody to round out their defense, but the decision to sign Quincey smacks of desperation.
Like a desperate and inebriated loser having struck out on finding a willing companion at any number of bars and clubs on a Friday night who calls his ex-girlfriend and promises far more than he should in order to not wake up alone on Saturday morning, Holland paid too high a price for Quincey’s services.
What’s more, the Red Wings are still left needing an upgrade on defense.
The remaining crop of free-agent defensemen is more or less unpalatable and represents no significant upgrade to the Red Wings’ current blue-line roster.
As such, the only option Holland has to improve his team is via trade. Holland will doubtless be working the phones regularly to find out who and what can be had in a swap with a rival team.
Frankly, now may not be the best time for Holland to start kicking those particular tires.
While it is not fair to go so far as to say Holland has demonstrated an inability to make sound judgments (e.g. Quincey signing), it stands to reason that he should wait a while before making any other large decisions.
The benefit of time cannot be undervalued when considering what might be necessary to acquire a defenseman via trade.
For example, as Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press recently argued, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers could very well be the player Holland decides to go after. While Myers would prove to be an upgrade on Detroit’s back end, the cost required to get him will be high.
As St. James notes, players such as Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco are all surely to be part of the asking price for a player of Myers’ ilk.
What’s more, Sabres general manager Tim Murray will be dealing from a position of strength, as the Red Wings’ need for a player like Myers outpaces the Sabres' need to unload him.
Murray could start the bidding by asking for a package of young roster players, prospects and picks, and Holland would be left to whittle that price down to something more manageable or decide to pull the trigger in order to make the deal.
As the pressure to improve the defense in Detroit remains high and the failure of free agency is still fresh, the latter scenario may very well shake out.
As such, overpayment may not be limited to Quincey’s contract.
Beyond that, the cold, hard reality of where the team would be even with a player like Myers on the roster needs to be acknowledged.
Would Myers make the Red Wings Stanley Cup contenders, Atlantic Division champions or even go a long way toward extending their playoff streak to 24 years?
Well, if a 24-year-old with 13 NHL playoff games under his belt—and zero since the 2010-11 season—represents the missing piece to the postseason puzzle in Detroit, then perhaps the Red Wings are far better off than they currently appear.
The point is, the Red Wings need to look long and hard at any potential trade acquisition before mortgaging part of their future to facilitate a deal.
Adding Myers to the team now may seem like a great way to chalk up a win this summer, but how many more wins that move would facilitate during the regular season is an open question.
Suffice to say, the further away from July 1 the Red Wings get, the clearer their collective heads will be. The team should take a patient approach to figuring out how and whom it will trade to improve its roster.