The NHL protected lists are out and we got taken by surprise by the Wings’ protection scheme. As a reminder, here’s the list of players who will be EXPOSED for Vegas to take in the draft:
Red Wings Exposure List -
|Louis-Marc Aubry (F)||Adam Almquist (D)||Jared Coreau (G)|
|Mitch Callahan (F)||Jonathan Ericsson (D)||Petr Mrazek (G)|
|Colin Campbell (F)||Niklas Kronwall (D)||Edward Pasquale (G)|
|Martin Frk (F)||Brian Lashoff (D)||Jake Paterson (G)|
|Luke Glendening (F)||Dylan McIlrath (D)|
|Darren Helm (F)||Xavier Ouellet (D)|
|Drew Miller (F)||Ryan Sproul (D)|
|Tomas Nosek (F)|
|Riley Sheahan (F)|
|Ben Street (F)|
|Eric Tangradi (F)|
Of course the big surprise there is Petr Mrazek over Jimmy Howard. Howard is older, more expensive (for right now), and hasn’t been as good as Mrazek over the same time period (even though he was better this season).
The potential reasons for this protection scheme are numerous, so we’re going to speculate on a few
Holland has a side deal with Vegas
Pierre LeBrun warned yesterday that surprising players on exposure lists could be indicative of side deals with Vegas for teams to have exposed players left alone in return for other value. It’s not like Ken Holland has never lied to us before, but he did say he didn’t want to spend assets to protect players, so the side deal theory is kind of thin.
Holland believes Mrazek won’t be taken
Widespread prediction is Vegas going with Marc-Andre Fleury as their no. 1. If so, VGK would not choose $4 M backup in Petr Mrazek.— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) June 18, 2017
That tweet just about says it all: Vegas will have other attractive options and Mrazek’s inconsistency paired with what’s going to be big contract demands when he hits RFA at the end of next season might make him skippable.
It’s certainly possible, but I believe Mrazek’s value to Vegas is higher than anyone else the Wings have left exposed. Even if they don’t want him to play for them, taking him and flipping him to say, Arizona, would be a very attractive option.
Holland is done with Mrazek
This one is the most-speculative and I’ve never heard the rumblings from anybody I’d consider an insider, but there are rumors out there that the Wings and Mrazek are not exactly simpatico in terms of Mrazek’s attitude/behavior. Unfortunately, this exposure seems to add credence to this thought. In the immediate aftermath, it’s what makes sense to me, but I have to stress that this is nothing but speculation at this point.
Ultimately, whatever reason the Red Wings have for not having protected Mrazek, I think this is roster mismanagement. If the Wings either wanted or are ready to accept Mrazek moving on, then regardless of the reason, they should have found a way to get more value for him prior to the expansion list coming out. Even if there were apparently no takers (like Helene St. James hints at here), then holding that value until more suitors arrived would have been the better plan.
Ansar Khan has a new article out that provides more fuel for Reason Number 3 above. He discusses Mrazek’s attitude issues last year and says that he (Khan) thinks it was a bad decision from a roster management perspective.
Holland confirmed he has no side deals in place with Vegas GM George McPhee, and it doesn't sound like he's inclined to do so.
"We had a tough year. We're trying to build our team," Holland said. "I'm not spending any future assets to hang onto players."