The Stanley Cup Final is over and the full attention of the hockey world has been turned to the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft. We’re just a week away from the big day and it appears Ken Holland and the Red Wings — unsurprisingly — will not be making any pre-expansion draft moves to protect extra players or get rid of a bad contract.
Holland: "I don't want to spend any futures to protect any players. We're going to protect our 7-3-1 and George can make his decision."— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) June 14, 2017
Holland’s protection choices are fairly obvious. At forward we’ll likely see Henrik Zetterberg, Frans Nielsen, Gus Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou protected. The seventh and final spot will probably come down to one of Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm and Riley Sheahan. If it was up to me, you protect Sheahan He’s cheap and there’s a very good chance he bounces back from the terrible season. However, I’d bet Holland and the Wings protect Abdelkader. He’s got a brand new contract and he’s the home grown Michigan kid.
On defense, the odds are Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser and Nick Jensen are protected and Petr Mrazek is the goalie that gets the nod. There could be a chance the team goes with Xavier Ouellet over Jensen instead.
I don’t necessarily disagree with Holland’s game plan here. The Wings need to keep their high draft picks more than they need to shed salary. This team needs the young talent in the system. They’re not going to be competing for Stanley Cup next season, so the need for tons of cap space to make a run at a free agent this offseason just isn’t there.
Would it be nice to get out of Abdelkader, Helm, Luke Glendening or Jonathan Ericsson’s contracts? Absolutely. The team has a terrible cap situation, but next season should be about continuing to develop young players and not spending money on veteran free agents. The most I’d offer George McPhee is one of our 3rd round picks to entice him to take a bad contact. I think our 1st and 2nd round picks this year (and next) need to be kept.
Last month Kyle, Peter and Mike did their expansion mock drafts. You can check it out here.
Let’s Go Red Wings.