Did Avalanche know Yzerman was turning Kyle Quincey into Detroit’s 1st-round pick?

As with any three-way deal, one team's fans are left wondering about the middle man being eliminated.

The Colorado Avalanche traded defenseman Kyle Quincey to the Tampa Bay Lightning for forward Steve Downie. The Lightning then traded Quincey to the Detroit Red Wings for minor league defenseman Sebastian Piche and the Wings' first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Therefore, the Avalanche could have traded Quincey for a first-rounder and a prospect, right?

In theory. Bruce Garrioch reported that the Red Wings made their pitch to GM Greg Sherman, but he wasn't buying what they were selling. Fact is that the Avalanche had a need for a forward like Downie, who's gritty, physical, difficult to play against and has an occasional dash of the crazies. Quincey wasn't likely to return next season, but he was also their leader in ice time — it's not outlandish to believe they wanted a roster player back for him.

All that said: Did Sherman know he was trading Quincey to Yzerman so Yzerman could trade him to Detroit for a first?

That's where it gets a little hazy.

From the Lightning, here's Yzerman after the trade:

Q. Was there ever a moment today where you thought about keeping Kyle Quincey? How difficult was he to pass up?

"Initially, the discussions were with Colorado about Kyle Quincey. I thought more about him and talked to other general managers around the league as to what they were looking for and his name came up. You take everything into consideration: contract status, where they're going to fit on your team, the type of player they are, and we had to think if we wanted Kyle Quincey or a first-round pick. I thought we should take the first-round pick."

From Kevin Allen of USA Today, here's the Detroit side of the equation via GM Ken Holland:

Holland originally had talked to Colorado general manager Greg Sherman about acquiring Quincey, who started his career in Detroit.

"I didn't like any of the names he brought up, and he didn't like any of the names I brought up, and that's where it ended," Holland said. "Then a couple of days ago, (Tampa Bay general manager) Steve Yzerman called and said I might get Quincey. Are you interested?"

Ah, so Yzerman was working on Downie for Quincey, and called his boys in Detroit, who were willing to ante up a first-rounder for a player that's an RFA when the "going rate" for a UFA rental has been a second-rounder.

But did Sherman know that after rebuffing Detroit himself, Yzerman was going to flip Quincey to them?

Sherman was asked that on NHL Live on Tuesday: Was he aware, or did he just wash his hands of the situation after acquiring Downie?

Said Sherman:

"I think there's a bit of both there. I had good conversations with Steve in there [being] potentially a 3-way scenario. But what we're trying to do is improve our club and Steve was a piece that we wanted to add, so … to your point of washing your hands, once you make that move and you get the player that you're looking to bring in, then what happens from there is their business. Kyle played very well for us and he wore the jersey with pride."

Speculative translation: He knew Yzerman might flip Quincey. He might not have known it was Detroit, or that the return would be a low first-round pick.

Adrian Dater thinks the Avs won the trade. Ditto David Driscoll-Carignan of Mile High Hockey:

The thought of Downie and Landeskog running over opponents together or Downie riding shotgun to protect Stastny and Duchene is a warm thought indeed. I like this move. In the short term, the Avalanche get offense and grit for a potential playoff run. And, if they ultimately fall short, Downie is a young player who can play a role in the perennial rebuild. That's a win in my book.

For now. But when we find out who that draft pick turns out to be …