Seattle Expansion Draft Primer for the Detroit Red Wings


    Seattle Expansion Draft

    On July 21st the NHL expansion draft will take place. The Seattle Kraken will select 30 different players from 30 different teams. The Las Vegas Golden Knights will be excluded from the draft. It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks for general manager Steve Yzerman as he prepares for the expansion draft followed by the NHL entry draft on July 23rd and 24th. A quick turnaround for free agency immediately follows starting on the 28th. Each team will submit a protected list of players to the NHL on July 17 while Seattle will receive the list at 7 a.m. the next day. General manager of the Kraken Ron Francis will have 72 hours to submit his picks and they will be announced on July 21 at 5 p.m.  

    Basic rules for the expansion draft as outlined by the NHL

    • Teams can protect eight skaters, and a goalie, or seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie. 
    • The Kraken must select at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goalies; four additional picks can be any position.  
    • Each NHL team must provide at least one defenseman who is under contract in 2021-22 and who has played a significant number of games within the last two NHL seasons and two forwards who meet the same criteria. The available goalie must be signed to an NHL contract or in receipt of a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent. 
    • Seattle must choose a minimum of 20 players under contract for the 2021-22 season. Those contracts must add up to between 60 to 100 percent of the league’s salary cap.  
    • Players with “no-move” clauses in their contract must be protected by NHL clubs 
    • All first and second-year professionals, plus unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection and are not counted toward protection limits.  

    Detroit Red Wings: 

    For the Detroit Red Wings, it is expected that they will protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie as it increases the amount players they can protect. Another factor is that the Red Wings would not need to protect unrestricted free agents when they submit their list. Currently, the Red Wings are not at risk of losing any current significant contributor or core player within the rules. There are a plethora of teams that are in a position in which they are going to lose a highly coveted player without anything in return. Detroit is in a position where they could take advantage of this and acquire these players at a low cost before the draft that could change their protected list. For this exercise, we are looking only at the current roster.  


    At the forward position there are five players that I consider locks to be protected  

    • Dylan Larkin 
    • Jakub Vrana 
    • Tyler Bertuzzi 
    • Robby Fabbri 
    • Michael Rasmussen  

    With these five players protected that leaves two more players to possibly protect from eight remaining players under contract for next season 

    • Adam Erne 
    • Givani Smith 
    • Vladislav Namestinkov: 
    • Evgeny Svechnikov 
    • Frans Neilsen
    • Hayden Verbeek 
    • Riley Barber 

    Of this group, only three (Namestinkov, Neilsen, and Panik) are under contract for the upcoming season. To meet the expansion rules requirement of exposing two forwards under contract for next season the Red Wings will have no issues leaving Neilsen exposed. Both Verbeek and Barber have minimal risk of being selected and would not warrant wasting a protected slot above the other options. This now narrows down the remaining options for the last two protected spots to four players (Erne, Smith, Namestinkov, and Svechnikov).  

    Fallout:  Forwards

    The most likely outcome is that the Red Wings final two players picked are Adam Erne and Givani Smith being protected. While there is still a chance that Svechnikov could turn around and become a productive player in the NHL, his injuries have caused his career to stall and by the time he becomes a productive player, there will be plenty of Red Wings prospects ready to take his spot. Namestnikov was a valuable member of the Red Wings last season but losing him would not be significant in the long-term outlook of the rebuild and would give an opportunity for a player like Smith to prove if he is NHL ready.  


    On the defense there are two players that I consider locks:

    • Filip Hronek  
    • Troy Stecher 

    To comply with the rule of leaving one defenseman under contract exposed the Red Wings are more than happy to leave Danny DeKeyser available. While DeKeyser returned from a serious back injury and arguably started to return to form, at 31 years old and with a $5 million dollar cap hit for one more year his projected contribution for next season is minimal. It would likely require the Red Wings to give up significant assets for the Kraken to take DeKeyser as there will be plenty of better options available in the expansion draft as well as free agency to upgrade.  

    With Hronek and Stecher protected and DeKeyser unprotected this leaves the following players left to consider:

    • Christian Djoos 
    • Denis Cholowski  
    • Gustav Lindstrom 

    Djoos is a restricted free agent that has already signed with a team in Sweden. Theoretically, the Kraken could take him but it’s extremely unlikely. This leaves two young  23 and 22-year-old developing prospects for Seattle to consider. This is likely Yzerman’s most difficult choice as there is a good chance that it becomes the player that the Red Wings lose.  

    Fallout: Defense

    There is a vast difference between Cholowski and Lindstrom. Cholowski is an offensive defenseman that one would hope ends up running the second power-play unit. He has struggled to maintain gap control, with decision-making in neutral and defensive zones, and winning puck battles below the net. However, he has shown significant improvement in all those areas as of late. Lindstrom on the other hand is consistent in the defensive zone using his high level of hockey IQ to limit chances and win puck battles. He makes minimal mistakes, moves the puck well, and takes very few chances. He won’t show up on the stat sheet very much, and some might not notice him during a game. Both players are likely to end up as a fifth or sixth defenseman. This should slot them into playing between 15 to 20 minutes each night with time on special teams being a factor. In the end, I believe that Cholowski is a tougher player to develop or obtain and the Red Wings protect him.      


    For the goaltenders, it’s simple, Jonathan Bernier, Calvin Pickard, and Kevin Boyle are all unrestricted free agents and don’t need to be protected. That narrows down the options to Thomas Greiss and 22-year-old Kaden Fulcher. The Red Wings have a significant lack of depth in their goaltending prospects and would prefer not to lose anyone. However, it might be a relief if the Kraken surprise the hockey world and take Fulcher. With minimal risk of losing Fulcher, it’s expected that the team protects Greiss.  

    Prediction of Protected List: 

    So here is a projected list of players that Yzerman likely ends up submitting to general manager Ron Francis come July 17:  


    • Dylan Larkin  
    • Jakub Vrana 
    • Tyler Bertuzzi  
    • Robby Fabbri  
    • Michael Rasmussen  


    • Filip Hronek  
    • Troy Stecher  
    • Denis Cholowski  


    • Thomas Griess 


    This leaves the Seattle Kraken choosing from the following list of players to choose from
    • Vladislav Namestnikov: 
    • Evgeny Svechnikov 
    • Frans Neilsen 
    • Richard Panik 
    • Danny DeKeyser 
    • Gustav Lindstrom  
    • Kaden Fulcher 

    This weekend we will find out how accurate this list is and what other teams have left unprotected. From there we can speculate who the Red Wings will end up losing and where they go from there.

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