This offseason General Manager Steve Yzerman will have the task of protecting players for the upcoming expansion draft for the addition of the Seattle Kraken. This year teams will have the following choices.
Option A: 7 forwards, 3 defenseman, 1 Goaltender
Option B: 8 skaters, 1 Goaltender.
The previous expansion draft for the addition of the Golden Knights saw Red Wings forward Thomas Nosek go to Vegas, where he has played a respectable amount of games and has tallied 65 points. Below I’m going to give my opinion on who I think the Wings should protect and what it means for the future of the team. In addition to the players being protected, there are a few players who are exempt from being selected by Seattle due to their career experience and injury history. Players like Seider, Raymond, Zadina, and Veleno are not names you will see on this list due to their NHL experience.
In my opinion I hope the Wings go with Option A. Detroit is in possession of young Defensemen that I hope remain in our lineup next year and beyond. The three defenseman I would like to see protected are
- Filip Hronek
- Troy Stecher
- Dennis Cholowski
Hronek has been a part of this rebuild for a few years now and just came off leading the team in points during the 2020-21 season. The Wings I feel will continue to keep Hronek the quarterback of the powerplay as he continues to develop into a offensive puck moving D-man. Stecher, I feel will play a very important role in the upcoming rookie season of Moritz Seider. Troy was paired with Marc Staal for a majority of the previous season and played extremely well. Yzerman has the 27 year old under contract for one more year at only 1.7 million. Cholowski has played in just above 100 games in his young career, most of which during the 2018-19 season where he played in 52 games.
The easiest and most painless selection of this process was that of the Goaltender.
- Thomas Greiss
Greiss will end up getting the protection pick this off-season as Jonathan Bernier is currently a unrestricted free agent. He also did start to turn his season around, he was able to put together a stellar last three starts, only allowing two goals on 90 shots faced. Hopefully with some better defense and a new approach to the special teams, we could see the Greiss of 2018-19, when he tallied 5 shutouts with a .927 SV%. Bernier could very well return to Detroit this off-season but that will come down to Yzerman’s decision ultimately.
Now for the fun of picking 7 forwards from this team. Detroit was a bit of a shell this year with constant injuries, some of which cost a better part of the season for players like Bertuzzi and Fabbri. The team does have a ton of young talent that thankfully will not need to be protected such as Zadina, Raymond, and Berggren. That does not mean the choices were easy on who to keep however. The following players are my choices for protection in the upcoming expansion draft.
- Dylan Larkin
- Tyler Bertuzzi
- Jakub Vrana
- Robby Fabbri
- Givani Smith
- Adam Erne
- Michael Rasmussen
Now, I know some of these choices are very obvious and we can skip the topic of protecting guys like Vrana, Larkin, and Bertuzzi. I feel where some of the controversy may come is with the selection of Smith and Erne. To me, Adam Erne played his way into a role position with this Detroit Red Wings team. Erne was able to tally career highs in Goals and points this previous season and really showed he could battle in those tough places on the ice. With the advantage of the young offensive talent still developing overseas or in the early stages expect him to remain a part of the offense going forward. Givani Smith is a player that I see having a lot of potential. At times Smith was one of the most noticeable players on the ice, especially when paired with other top 6 talent. He also plays a role as the team’s tough guy, leading the team in fighting majors while playing only 16 games. With young players sprinkled throughout this lineup, it does not hurt to have someone like Smith as the enforcer and protector.
The selection of these seven players leaves some pretty noticeable names left unprotected. Players like Namestikov, Richard Panik, Evgeny Svechnikov, and Frans Nielson all could be potentially taken from the Red Wings to play for the Kraken. Not to mention Danny Dekyser on the back end, however most would be ok with taking his 5 million dollar cap hit off the books. The same opinion goes for Nielson’s 5.25 million for the 2021-22 season.
Yes, Yzerman has his hands full this season with Detroit in the upcoming Lottery Draft, The Expansion Draft, Free Agency, and the Draft itself. We could see some well loved unrestricted free agents return such as Bobby Ryan and Sam Gagne but we will not hear of those signings until July 28th. Stay posted with the FHN to get the latest on the upcoming Lottery draft and other Detroit Red Wings discussions.