Earlier today, the Colorado Avalanche traded defenseman Kyle Quincey to the Tampa Bay Lightning for forward Steve Downie. The Lightning then immediately traded Quincey to the Detroit Red Wings for defenseman Sebastian Piche and the Wings 1st round pick in this summer's entry draft. Reviews from the fan base have been decidedly mixed, but I am a big fan of this deal.
For the Avalanche perspective, it's certainly not a shock that Quincey is a player on the move. We tagged him as the most likely to be moved not too long ago and the assumption has been that the Avalanche would move him for a forward at the deadline. I won't lie - I've never been a big Quincey fan. In his three seasons in Colorado, he's started out terrific - scoring, hitting and being an overall bad motherfucker in front of the net. And then December 1st comes along and things go south in a hurry - no scoring, no hitting, no passion. 44 of Quincey's 92 career points have come in October and November - 47%. After that, it's game over. But even if I am not the biggest Quincey admirer, it was still not tough to see that he'd be moving. The Avalanche have a nice core of Erik Johnson, Jan Hejda, Ryan O'Byrne and Ryan Wilson with Stefan Elliott (who was recalled today) and Tyson Barrie waiting in the wings. Quincey - and his $3.25 million cap hit - was expendable.
Steve Downie is an interesting acquisition. He has, for a franchise that experienced the ugly Steve Moore incident, a less-than desirable track record. Downie was suspended in junior for a cross-check in practice of teammate Alim Aliu after Aliu allegedly refused an attempt at hazing. In 2007 he was suspended 20 games by the NHL for checking Dean McAmmond into the boards and in 2009 he was suspended 20 games by the AHL for slashing a lineseman. Ugly incidents, to be sure. However, by many accounts, Downie has matured in recent years. He's still pretty young (he turns 25 in April) and young people can do stupid things sometimes (I speak from a position of experience). Ugly past aside, I think Steve Downie is exactly what the Avalanche need.
The Avalanche have struggled to score goals this year. Downie has 12 goals and 28 points, which would put him 5th on the Avs in scoring. But he's more than that. Downie is a feisty player - a little pest who isn't afraid to drop the gloves (5 fights this year). The Avalanche need this. As a team, they have lacked passion on the ice. I think Downie is a terrific fit for the team - he can provide some pop, some grit, some hustle, some toughness and, yes, a little bit of nasty. The Avalanche don't have nasty, and I think every team needs a small level of that.
I've read the comments and know that a lot of you think we could have gotten more for Quincey. I disagree; I think Downie is just about right for the return. I, for one, am ecstatic about the trade and that is not a reaction I have very often when it comes to Avalanche trades. The thought of Downie and Landeskog running over opponents together or Downie riding shotgun to protect Stastny and Duchene is a warm thought indeed. I like this move. In the short term, the Avalanche get offense and grit for a potential playoff run. And, if they ultimately fall short, Downie is a young player who can play a roll in the perennial rebuild. That's a win in my book.