DETROIT – The Wings and one of their two restricted free agents are close to getting a deal done.
“I know we’re close,” said Wings general manager Ken Holland, of the on-going negotiations with Kyle Quincey in a phone interview Tuesday. “We’re hoping to avoid the arbitration process.”
Quincey’s arbitration hearing is scheduled for July 25.
Both sides need to have their briefs for the hearing by 9 a.m. Monday.
“It’s good motivation for us to work on this thing, but I’m optimistic we’ll find a solution prior to going to the hearing on Wednesday,” Holland said.
Quincey, 26, made $3.25 million a year ago and the Wings were hoping to get him at a modest raise, perhaps with a one- or two-year deal.
A one-year deal would allow Quincey to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
“We’ve talked a number of times over the last few of days,” Holland said. “I think based on the conversation we had earlier (Tuesday) that we’re making progress and we’ll see what happens over the next couple of days. Hopefully we’ll avoid arbitration. I’m certainly optimistic that we will.”
When the Wings re-acquired Quincey in a three team trade at the deadline last season it was to fill a void on the blue line for an underachieving Jakub Kindl.
Quincey’s re-acclamation to the team wasn’t a smooth one, scoring just two goals with one assist in 18 regular season games. He wound up being a healthy scratch once and also had to battle through a groin injury.
He had two assists in the playoffs.
Quincey, who began his career in Detroit before being claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Kings near the start of the 2008-09 season, was dealt from Colorado to Tampa Bay for Steve Downie.
Then, the Lightning turned around and sent the 26-year-old defenseman to the Wings for a first-round pick next season and minor-league defenseman Sebastien Piche.
“In hindsight we should have never let him go,” Holland said at the time of the trade. “He’s 26 years old and we know him and he can play in the top four on the blue line.
“We’ve managed our draft picks for the most part since 2005,” Holland added. “We felt he’s 26 and in the prime of his career. He fits all we were looking for. And he’s not a rental.”
Quincey averaged over 22 minutes of ice time in Colorado.
He’ll be looked on to average close to that this season on the blue line, which lost Nicklas Lidstrom (retirement) and Brad Stuart (trade) this offseason.
“You lose Brian Rafalski in the summer of 2010,” Holland said. “Then you lose Nick Lidstrom and Brad Stuart in the summer of 2012, we can’t get those types of players. They’re special players. They’re unique.
“We certainly think in Kyle Quincey and Brendan Smith we’ve got two NHL players, but our defense isn’t as deep as it has been,” Holland continued. “When you lose the types of players we’ve lost on defense those players are special for a reason, they’re better than everyone else.”
Niklas Kronwall, Ian White, Jonathan Ericsson and Kindl are the only others returning, which leaves no depth back there.
“I think we have six NHL defensemen,” Holland said. “I would like to make a move on our defense over the next six weeks, definitely. We went into the summertime, July 1, we put a lot of energy into pursing Ryan Suter and I think we got down to a short list of teams, maybe two or three. In the meantime a couple of defensemen we had interest in signed elsewhere. That was a risk at the time we were prepared to take. I’m not looking back on that decision because we were pursuing Ryan Suter and we knew it was going to require a lot of money and a lot of cap space.”