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Does the Kyle Quincey Signing Make NJ Better?

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The Devils announced yesterday that they had added defenseman Kyle Quincey on a one year deal. Being that he plays the left side, we look today to see if he is an upgrade over a couple of defenders that played the left last season.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Detroit Red Wings - Game Four
Sorry Kyle, you’re going to have to change that number in NJ!
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

When I read yesterday that our New Jersey Devils had signed Kyle Quincey to a one year deal, all I could immediately think of was, “Oh good; maybe one of the Jo(h)ns won’t be an every night player.” John Moore last season started off well and kind of fizzled out as the season went on. Jon Merrill played like a train wreck most nights, and if last night’s preseason game was any indication, he’s going to be a train wreck again this season. I’ve been down on the Jo(h)ns for quite some time to the point that I’ve been hoping for trades, or new players (such as Yohann Auvitu) to beat them out of a roster spot; heck, we could leave them both unprotected and hope Las Vegas takes one from us!

The Quincey signing to me signaled that Ray Shero realized that our back end was thin on the left side. While Auvitu looked strong in his preseason debut the other night, it seems like Shero wanted another player with NHL experience on the left side. However, it’s worth questioning if Kyle Quincey is that defender; does he really makes us a better team overall. We take a look at some precursory stats today in an effort to determine if he will have an impact - one way or the other.

Quincey VS. Merrill

While advanced stats are not everything in hockey, some of them are pretty useful in determining how good a player is. For New Jersey last season, Jon Merrill was almost exclusively a bottom pairing guy, while Moore played both bottom and middle pairing depending on injuries and other personnel factors. Meanwhile over with the Detroit Red Wings, Kyle Quincey was featured frequently in their top 4, playing many night on their top pair, despite what I have heard from Wings fans that he was in over his head in that role.

Let’s start with the bottom of our defensive barrel and stack up how Merrill compares to Quincey:

While I’m not the biggest believer in HERO charts, as I said above there are some stats of use here. At the very least it offers a visible comparison of how the players stack up against one another in certain aspects. I was surprised to see Merrill rank average in just about anything, but lo and behold he actually did a pretty good job suppressing shots last season; his possession wasn’t awful either. Quincey meanwhile was a much better goal scorer and at least somewhat better point producer. The following season probabilities did not really favor either player in terms of points per 60 (which surprised me considering how bad Merrill was at generating offense) but they did favor Merrill for possession and shot differential.

Quincey VS. Moore

Next a HERO chart comparison of Moore and Quincey:

The production gap per 60 between Moore and Quincey is closer than it was between Merrill and Quincey, but Kyle still holds and edge here. Moore is also better at generating shots, but he’s absolutely terrible at preventing them (which was noticeable to the eye last year); he is also better at puck possession than Quincey, resulting in more favorable predictions of usage for Moore in this upcoming season.

What’s Not Taken Into Account/Are We a Better Team?

The important point to mention here is that these stats can only be taken with a grain of salt; why? Quite simply because HERO charts do not account for quality of competition despite listing a player’s designated role. HERO charts are probably a bit more useful when comparing players who are deployed similarly.

As such, I think it is currently inconclusive as to whether we are a better team or not, which is disappointing to someone such as myself craving an upgrade over the Jo(h)ns. The fact is Quincey may wind up being a complete bust in our system; the possibility also exists that he might wind up succeeding in a lesser role (as long as Andy Greene is healthy, Quincey won’t sniff the top pair) in New Jersey. At the very least, it’s a one year deal so even if it winds up being a complete failure of an experiment, the Devils wouldn’t be stuck with Quincey after this year.

From the times I’ve seen him play, I can say from the eye test that in a reduced role from the one he had with the Wings, Kyle should be an upgrade over at the very least Jon Merrill; again, after watching last night’s preseason game, I’m confident in that statement.

Your Take

What are your thoughts on Quincey as an option over Merrill and/or Moore? Do you like having him as an addition on the left side? In a perfect world would Quincey and Auvitu be playing every night over the Jo(h)ns? am I too harsh on the Jo(h)ns? Leave any and all comments below and thank you as always for reading!