We continue our look at player grades for the 2014-15 season today with a look at guys we called the "eventual castoffs" in preseason. Of the three, we've got one guy who played on a pairing that Mike Babcock once called Detroit's best. The other two? Well yeah them not so much.
For the ratings, we've taken the player's production and output both versus expectations and against what would be considered average for a player of his caliber/usage. A C grade is average in every way. Anything above that is good, anything below is bad.
#27 / Defenseman / Detroit Red Wings
Aug 12, 1985
Preview Recap: Kyle Quincey was not a popular signing for the Red Wings last summer after the team struck out on a deeper free agent pool only to find themselves bringing back a familiar face. He came back as 2nd pairing defenseman by default, a guy we hoped to see pushed down to the third pair by the end of the season.
Season Recap: 73 games played and 3rd among Detroit defensemen for points, both by total and even-strength scoring rate for a guy who was hardly sheltered in zone starts and wasn't given much power play time at all to pad his stats. At points in the season, the Quincey-DeKeyser pairing was the most-solid one Detroit had. Quincey's usage was 2nd pairing all season and occasionally did punch up to looking like top-pairing duties.
It's not a completely rosy picture for Quincey though. For one, although he had offensive numbers that put him in decent standings among Detroit blueliners, he wasn't in the top 100 for defensemen scoring leaguewide and he barely cracked the top 80 for points/60 at even strength among guys who played at least 1,000 ES minutes. On top of that, Quincey was top ten in the league for minor penalties once again.
Compared to expectations, I think Quincey did outstanding work. This was a guy that fans were ready to riot over who convinced people he was well worth his cap hit. It's a bit hard to compare him across the league for "2nd-pairing defenseman", since there's such a wide variety of requirements. However, I think that as far as stay-at-home 2nd pairing defenseman goes, Quincey was quite good.
Final Grade: A-
#4 / Defenseman / Detroit Red Wings
Feb 10, 1987
Preview Recap: Jakub Kindl wasn't expected to do great things for the Red Wings this year. In fact, let's just go straight to the quote from the season preview:
Kindl cracks the lineup for awhile, before eventually getting shuffled out late in the season like he so often does. Ken Holland tries and fails to unload him via trade, and he spends the entire season fighting for the 6/7th roster spot with Lashoff, much like last season.
Season Recap: Kindl got into 36 games before the Wings were eliminated. All but eight of those happened before the calendar clicked over to 2015. There were plenty of rumors that Holland was trying to move him. Hell, if not for the Lashoff thing, I'd be all ready to burn Wingedoctopus at the stake for writing that. Numbers-wise, Kindl was given quite easy deployment on the third pair and decent power play time. He answered by putting up a perfectly acceptable point pace offensively while failing to do much once the puck exited the offensive zone.
Kindl is a tough case because he was given a super-easy job compared to his teammates and for the most part he did it, but that wasn't good enough. The thing you'd like to see from a guy who gets 68% offensive zone starts is actually impressive numbers rather than just acceptable ones. He's caught between not being given a chance to prove he could do much more than offensive zone specialist and not showing that he should be given such a chance.
I'll admit I was hard on Kindl this season and that I don't see a spot for him going forward, but I think that given the circumstances, he was fine this season.
Final Grade: B
Preview Recap: The biggest concern in the preseason for Lashoff would be that he would get into too many games. Lashoff has the benefit of being a guy without too many expectations, so it's hard not to live up to them.
Season Recap: Lashoff got into just 11 games and actually passed through waivers. He did manage two assists in those contests, but he wasn't there to dish the puck. Lashoff got the standard higher offensive zone starts of a third pairing defenseman in Detroit's system, but he actually got tougher quality of competition in that time. It was the most-defensive usage you could have for a guy with 68% offensive zone starts.
Lashoff ended up playing fewer minutes than any other defenseman who suited up for the Wings this season. The trouble here is that Lashoff is a pretty good 7th defenseman to have around for a team that just needs a dependable guy to come in and be generally reliable in stretches. What the Wings needed and used this season was a battle for defensive spots among guys who were potentially not as dependable but also with much higher ceilings. He was never really running the race.
For expectations, Lashoff lived up to them. For overall comparison, Lashoff falls short.
Final Grade: C-