On a individual basis, this season has been a mixed bag of performances for the Devils. Some players have looked strong or are even having career years while others have disappointed with underwhelming performances on the ice and/or scoresheet. One player whose career needed a breakout season was now-third-year pro, John Quenneville. To this point, it has not happened. Quenneville remains without a point despite 12 appearances for the Devils so far this season and, given that he has already been sent back to Binghamton previously this season, I’d imagine it won’t be too long before he finds himself demoted again at this rate.
The thing is, in his time down in Binghamton, Quenneville has been, by a pretty wide margin, the most productive Devil. In 19 AHL games he has put up 19 points, a very solid output that usually indicates some level of NHL-caliber player for someone his age. His point per game and 3.5 shots per game both pretty comfortably lead the team among players who have played significant time for the B-Devils. That has just not translated for Quenneville at the NHL level, though. In his time with the big club, he has looked either “okay” or “completely invisible” in alternating stretches, and that is very much reflected in the stats. No one is expecting Quenneville to set the world on fire in the NHL, but given his output in the AHL, you would expect him to at least be a serviceable third or fourth line contributor and provide a little bit of depth scoring.
Instead, Quenneville has provided little in the way of scoring, and really not too much else in its place. It’s not that Quenneville necessarily looks out of place in the NHL, it’s that he is barely noticeable. There are games where he can play 12+ minutes and you may not even recall seeing him on the ice. For a bottom-six player, its understandable that occasionally, they will blend into the scenery, but Quenneville has been regularly invisible. He has perfectly adequate on-ice numbers in his somewhat sheltered minutes, but the amount of times he has made a notably impactful play at the NHL level this year could probably be counted on one hand. If you’re a defenseman, being a wallflower can be excused, but it’s a little different when you’re a forward on a team that needs production throughout the lineup to succeed. Quenneville not only has zero points, but he has amassed just nine shots in his 12 NHL games this season. It’s not that he is snakebitten, he’s just not involved at all.
In baseball, there is a term for a player who can mash in the high minor leagues (triple-A) but disappears once you put him up against major league competition: a quadruple-A player. At this point, I am starting to fear that’s what the Devils have in John Quenneville. It’s not that he doesn’t have skill, it’s that for whatever reason, he is unable to generate opportunities for himself or his teammates against NHL competition. Maybe he’s a step slow or a touch too indecisive for the highest level to make an impact but whatever it is, he now has just four points in 28 total NHL games and zero in his last 15 appearances.
So can Quenneville ever establish a foothold in the NHL? I’ve never necessarily been high on his development, but thought he might at least become a viable bottom-six contributor at some point. Given what we have seen this season, though, my hopes for that are quickly fading. Quenneville has to find ways to create space and actually start generating chances with the skills he has quickly or he will be headed for life as a career minor-leaguer. As it stands though, I can’t imagine John Hynes and the Devils will continue running him out there much longer if he continues to fail to produce.