The Colorado Avalanche added a gritty young winger, the Tampa Bay Lightning continued their selling ways and the Detroit Red Wings added a proven veteran defenceman for their playoff run.
The Avalanche Get: RW Steve Downie.
Downie, 24, has been having an up-and-down season for the Lightning, scoring 12 goals and 28 points in 55 games. His minus-15 rating is worst among Tampa Bay forwards, but that is somewhat misleading. His shot differential (plus-2.9 per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 per www.behindthenet.ca) is best among Lightning regulars, so that shaky plus-minus would seem to be a reflection on subpar goaltending more than an indictment of Downie's two-way play.
An agitator who frequently gets under his opponents' skin, Downie has 638 penalty minutes in 252 career games, including 121 in 55 games this season. He'll add some bite to the Avalanche forward lines, but brings enough skills to play a top-nine role with second-unit power play time.
In the last three seasons, there have only been two players to score at least 20 goals and register 150 penalty minutes in the same season -- Downie and Dallas' Steve Ott, both in 2009-2010.
Considering the Avalanche have several wingers headed for unrestricted free agency -- including Milan Hejduk, David Jones and Daniel Winnik -- Downie does provide some insurance if any of those players depart, either before the trade deadline or after the free agent market hits on July 1.
Downie's cap hit is $1.85-million this season (www.capgeek.com) and he will be a restricted free agent this summer.
The Red Wings Get: D Kyle Quincey.
Quincey is a 26-year-old blueliner that started his career in Detroit. He was a fourth-round pick in 2003 and played 13 regular season and 13 playoff games for the Red Wings before he was waived in October, 2008.
Since then, Quincey has established himself as a bona fide top-four defenceman, playing more than 20 minutes per game in Los Angeles and Colorado. Bouncing back from a shoulder injury that limited him to 21 games last season, Quincey was leading the Avalanche with 22:21 in ice time, putting up 23 points with a minus-1 rating in 54 games.
Going to Detroit allows Quincey to stabilize the third pairing, bumping Jakub Kindl to the role of seventh defenceman. With less ice time, Quincey won't likely be as productive through the rest of this season, but like the Avalanche up front, the Wings have some defencemen headed for unrestricted free agency, including Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart. If either one doesn't return to Detroit next season, Quincey could easily slide into a top-four role.
Quincey, who is a $3.125-million cap hit this year, will be a restricted free agent in the summer.
The Lightning Get: Detroit's first-round pick and D Sebastien Piche.
Getting a late first-round pick from Detroit is okay for Tampa Bay and allows them to continue to stockpile picks, but it's not exactly a lock that a late first-round pick is going to ultimately provide as much value as Downie.
In the meantime, Downie's absence could open the door for rookie winger Brett Connolly, who hasn't played more than 10 minutes in a game since January 7, to see more playing time down the stretch. Downie had been playing primarily with Steven Stamkos and Teddy Purcell (www.dobberhockey.com), so there could be a prime opportunity available (depending on how long Vincent Lecavalier is out of the lineup).
Piche is a 24-year-old defenceman who had three points and a minus-7 rating in 22 games with Grand Rapids of the AHL. The Red Wings were sitting at the maximum of 50 players under pro contracts so Piche was included to make room for Quincey, though it appears highly unlikely that he'll ever be an NHLer.
What is interesting out of this deal is that the Avalanche and Lightning are both outside of the playoffs right now, yet the Avalanche have added a player that should upgrade them both immediately and long-term, while Tampa Bay is stocking up for the future, a future that apparently doesn't include a 24-year-old winger like Downie.