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Kyle Quincey: #1 Defenseman?

Kyle Quincey has been front-and-center in the Colorado Avalanche's quick start to the season. The off-season pickup from the Los Angeles Kings has had all the hallmarks of a top defenseman - he's at the top of the depth chart at even-strength, on the power-play and on the penalty-kill.

5v5 5v4 4v5 Faceoff

2009-10 COL 13 17.18 3.93 3.2 40
2008-09 LAK 72 15.34 3.32 1.17 54.9

While the Kings sheltered him last year and kept him away from the penalty-kill and defensive zone faceoffs, Colorado has thrown him in the middle of everything, with great results - they lost just one of their first 13 games in regulation, and Quincey led their defensemen in ice time and points. I certainly didn't see this coming: if you'd asked me six months ago if Kyle Quincey could be the #1 defenseman on a good team, I'd have given you 10-1 odds against.

So was this something we should have expected? More on Quincey's career after the jump...

Quincey had one only pre-draft season in the OHL, with the London Knights. He found himself fairly far down on the depth chart, and was drafted in the 4th round of the 2003 draft by the Detroit Red Wings, 132nd overall. He worked his way up to the #1 spot in his Age 20 season, and made the jump to the bottom of the depth chart in Grand Rapids the following season. After three years in the AHL, Detroit still couldn't commit and tried to sneak him through waivers. They ended up losing him to the LA Kings, where he finally cracked the NHL roster:

Depth Depth Depth Pts Pts

LGE GP 5v5 5v4 4v5 5v5 5v4
2009-10 NHL 13 1 2 3 4 3
2008-09 NHL 72 5 2 7 9 25
2007-08 AHL 66 2 4 3 14 6
2006-07 AHL 65 2 3 3 8 6
2005-06 AHL 70 5 3 3 14 12
2004-05 OHL 56 1 1
2003-04 OHL 64 4 1
2002-03 OHL 66 5 3

The Kings' big move was to give him a big chunk of the power-play minutes. The net result, as you can see above, was 25 points at 5-on-4, more than he had in three seasons in the AHL. The Kings then traded him to Colorado in the Ryan Smyth deal - it seemed like they were selling high, but now Quincey's a new player. Let's look at the results:

5v5 5v4 4v5 5v5 5v4 4v5
Rel+/- Rel+/- Rel+/- CORSI CORSI CORSI
2009-10 0.79 -1.96 5.54 -18.3 85.8 -100.9
2008-09 0.45 5.01 -0.76 9.9 99.7 -56.9

Relative to his teammates, his +/- per 60 minutes has improved somewhat at even-strength, and he's been vastly better on the PK. But his Corsi Number, which is the total count of shots taken - both for and against - while he's on the ice, has absolutely cratered. Some of that we expected - the tougher your competition and the more defensive zone draws you get sent out for, the worse your Corsi will be. But Quincey has been on the ice for just one goal against per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time this season despite being outshot by almost 50%. Over the course of a season, that's simply unsustainable.

Quincey may continue to get the big minutes and the tough matchups, but if he sustains these shot rates, he'll end up a -20 for the season. Given where he's starting from, that's an ugly next five months.