We're in the downtime between the NHL Expansion Draft and the Entry Draft right now. The roster freeze has lifted, as has a player from the organization. While the selection of Tomas Nosek wasn't exactly a Weber-for-Subban trade level shock for everybody, it was at least a bit unexpected. With that, we've got a number of questions for discussion around the Red Wings.
1. What to do with the Goalie Situation
Since the Expansion Draft special on Wednesday night made sure to cover side deals which drove Vegas' selections for some players, we have to assume that Ken Holland didn't expose Petr Mrazek and then pay assets to make sure he wasn't taken. Combined with the level of silence from the organization about the attitude rumors which has done nothing to address or minimize the damage, it seems Detroit is preparing for a Mrazek-free future. Is that still the plan now that he hasn't been taken?
One of the rumors Craig Custance talked about prior to the selection is that Detroit asked around and couldn't find a taker among teams that would have had to have used a protection slot on Mrazek. However, you also have to balance the idea that Vegas likely didn't get an offer from another team that was more attractive to them than Tomas Nosek, which doesn't bode well. With teams like Arizona, Philly, and Vancouver looking for goaltending help, it's still possible Mrazek goes and it's very possible that his trade stock was more affected by the looming Expansion Draft than it will be in the next two days, but if Mrazek doesn't go before the end of the draft, we probably have to assume that the goaltending issue will be around for a while longer.
2. How Much does the Nosek Selection Change Things?
Obviously, before the Mrazek exposure, a lot of us were preparing to lose a depth two-way center... just not the one who ended up going. I'm not exactly happy to see Nosek selected because I really liked the guy, but Joakim Andersson was the top-line center for a championship-winning Griffins squad too. Nosek represented a player just one year younger than Sheahan who didn't have the stink of a huge goalscoring drought on him last year and counts just a pittance against the cap instead of Sheahan's slightly-more-than-a-pittance-but-not-a-big-deal.
Aside from the goalie mess and the concept that losing a center gets us farther away from my team all-centers team, there's also the consideration that the defensive logjam is unaffected and also the disturbing statement on the status of Detroit's exposed players that Vegas went for a largely unproven AHL champ over veteran guys. There are some hard looks to be made about which pieces are crucial to future success and which can be expended.
3. Is the Draft Strategy Affected Now?
The rumors are still out there that Detroit might want to slip into the late 1st round to take Jake Oettinger and it's possible that the pieces not lost in expansion could get them there, and it's not like anybody was counting on Tomas Nosek being the center of the future, but the argument about position of need might be changed a bit here. We've crowed for years about how Detroit needs a stud defenseman, but we're also at a point where our real prospect center depth is pretty badly depleted. You could argue we have a better chance of pulling a 1D out of the guys we've already drafted than getting a 1C out of what's in the pipeline.
4. When are They Going to Sign the RFAs?
Detroit protected unsigned RFAs Andreas Athanasiou and Tomas Tatar, allowing Xavier Ouellet to be exposed to signing/selection and it made sense to wait and see how things would shake out before spending some of the almost $12M in cap space on these three but now that's over. In fairness, there's no real hurry for the RFA deals prior to the draft, but I'm impatient and would feel better about having one less thing hanging out there.
Obviously, these questions are going to evolve pretty quickly over the next couple of days and we'll also start focusing more on the Wings plans for free agency [shudder] and the hunt for the mythical true top pairing defenseman that teams will apparently trade for less than a different, older, worse true top-pairing defenseman.
Stay tuned to WIIM for more draft and (hopefully) trade coverage in the coming days.