Predicting Protected Lists: Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings’ roster is in an odd place leading up to the expansion draft. They have a mix of veterans and young, fringe NHL players on the team with no middle ground of prospects existing. They may have one or two players that will be at risk to go to Vegas, but otherwise they are not in a terrible position.
Frans Nielsen is the only player on Detroit with a no-movement clause. After signing him last summer, it is not expected that Detroit will ask him to waive.
In terms of other players up front, Henrik Zetterberg is almost certain to be protected. Despite his age, he is still a consistent producer and led Detroit in points last season.
Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist both had disappointing 2016-2017 campaigns, however that should not affect their standing for the expansion draft. Anticipate both to be protected.
The same can be said for Andreas Athanasiou, although he did pick up his pace near the end of the season.
Justin Abdelkader is another forward that Detroit highly values. Ken Holland signed him to a pretty ridiculous deal a few years ago, though. He still has six years at $4.25 million left on the deal.
The last forward spot is likely to go to Anthony Mantha. He was in trade speculation last year, but he solidified his spot as a bonafide NHL caliber player this season. The Red Wings will not want to lose him. The first round pick from 2013 is a former 57 goal scorer in the QMJHL.
With those seven forwards being protected, that leaves Riley Sheehan unprotected. Despite only having two goals last season, both of which came in the last game, Sheehan is still a good player with potential to become a reliable middle-six center. He’ll be an enticing option for Vegas.
On defense, things are a little strange as well.
Nick Jensen and Danny DeKeyser both should be protected. Outside of that, it is hard to pinpoint what Ken Holland will do.
Niklas Kronwall has been a cog in Detroit’s defensive system for years, but time has taken its toll on the Swedish defender. Do the Wings expose him and risk Vegas taking him? Vegas seems to want younger players, but it becomes a hard call either way.
Other defensive options include Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul. Both are young yet unestablished full time in the NHL.
Still, though, despite his age, I think the Wings will wind up protecting Kronwall. He is too important still for them to risk losing him for nothing.
In goal, Petr Mrazek is likely to be protected just due to his age in comparison to Jimmy Howard. That does not mean his starting job is safe, though.
In total, the Detroit Red Wings protection list could like this:
Forwards: Frans Nielsen, Henrik Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Andreas Athanasiou, Justin Abdelkader, Anthony Mantha
Defense: Nick Jensen, Danny DeKeyser, Niklas Kronwall
Goalie: Petr Mrazek
For players that Vegas might take, the aforementioned Sheehan, Ouellet, and Sproul are all potential options.
Next team: Edmonton Oilers