As expected, the Red Wings have protected seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie in the NHL expansion draft.
The Vegas Golden Knights will select one player from each team. Their picks must be submitted by Wednesday at 10 a.m. and will be revealed during the NHL Awards Show on Wednesday night.
Wings management deliberated whom to protect and whom to expose for many months. There were some no-brainers on the protection side, such as captain Henrik Zetterberg and promising youngsters Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou.
The topic of most debate seemed to be in goal. Forced to choose between 33-year-old Jimmy Howard, who’s coming off a terrific season, and 25-year-old Petr Mrazek, who struggled in 2016-17, the Wings went with Howard.
Each team’s protection list was made public by the NHL today at 10:30 a.m. Here is Detroit’s:
While some fans were hoping the team would expose defenseman Mike Green to potentially shed his $6 million cap hit, Green is the one offensive presence on the Wings’ blue line. If they have any intention of competing next season – and they do – they’ll need a puck-mover on the back end. So Green stays.
Regarding Abdelkader, who’s 30 years old and signed through 2023 with a cap hit of $4.25 million, it’s likely the Wings valued his grit and leadership. Though he’s clearly overpaid, he’s one of the team’s assistant captains and could be in line to inherit the ‘C’ when Zetterberg retires.
Any player with two years or less of professional experience (NHL or AHL) is exempt from the expansion draft. For the Wings, that includes Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi and top prospect Evgeny Svechnikov, among others.
On the other hand, any player with a no-movement clause must be protected. Nielsen is the only Red Wing in that category, and he likely would’ve been protected anyway.
Of the players the Wings exposed, the most likely candidate to be taken is Riley Sheahan. Despite going almost the entire 2016-17 season without a goal, the 25-year-old is a strong skater, a big body and a generally effective two-way center. He’s owed just $2.075 million next season and is controllable through 2018.
The NHL is currently under a trade freeze that lasts until Thursday at 8 a.m., with teams only allowed to make trades with the Golden Knights. It’s expected some teams will make deals with Vegas to not select a certain player on their roster.