Do we really need to expand?–Detroit

Joseph Beaudet

I’ve talked a little about Detroit and the expansion draft, but I haven’t dedicated one full piece to it yet. Here we are, mock protection season. Never really thought I’d do this, especially not this soon, but here we are. I’ve already given my predictions as to who I believe the Wings will protect, but I didn’t go in depth with any of them. Now, I’m going in depth, and probably to the point that you will want to smack me in the face. Frankly, I’m okay with that, and now I hope I make you reach that point. Ken Holland has said that he will use the 7-3-1 protection format, so that’s exactly what my prediction will be based on.

First, the forwards. Henrik Zetterberg needs to be protected, there’s no question about it. He is their captain, and arguably among the league’s best. After leading the team in points and being their best overall player, Las Vegas would pick him in a heartbeat. Frans Nielsen also needs to be protected, but because he has a No-Move Clause. He didn’t have a bad season, per se, but he certainly didn’t have a great season. Having just 41 points for a player making $5.25MM a year just won’t cut it on a yearly basis. Tomas Tatar would not be entertained  if he wasn’t protected. And I would not be entertained if he’s not signed to a contract immediately. After leading the team in goals comfortably, and being third on the team in scoring, Tatar was one of Detroit’s best players. Gustav Nyquist should also be protected. Despite having a down year in terms of goals scored, Nyquist still managed to have the second highest point total on the team, behind none other than Henrik Zetterberg. Anthony Mantha isn’t dead wood, and should be protected. Playing in just 60 games, he was, technically, fifth on the team in scoring, and probably would’ve been higher had he not been benched. That’s neither here nor there though, as he was stellar this season. Andreas Athanasiou is next, and I love the kid. I’ve said that I see flashes of the Magic Man in him. And despite being buried on the third or fourth line for numerous games and being benched from time to time Double-A was one of Detroit’s more lethal players, scoring 18 goals, good for second on the team. Then there is the magical seventh protected forward. I genuinely don’t know what to do with this one. I really don’t want to choose between Abdelkader, Helm, and Sheahan. Sheahan could be in for a big season next year after a shitty one last year, but there’s that risk that that doesn’t happen. Abdelkader and Helm are part of Holland’s bad contract club, so I just don’t want to protect either of them. I guess we’ll go with Sheahan here, but I don’t want to say anything nice about him. Wait… yes I do. He scored the last goal at The Joe, so I have a soft spot in my heart for him now, that is all.

Now defenseman. There’s only three, so I promise you won’t have to read a 30 sentence paragraph. Mike Green has to be protected because of his No-Move Clause, not because he’s good. Although, he didn’t have a terrible season… offensively. He, like most everyone else in Detroit’s defense, was just a traffic cone when defending. But hey, those offensive numbers are nice, I guess. Danny DeKeyser is part of Holland’s bad contract club, and as much as I love DK, he’s a moving traffic cone as well. And hell, sometimes, he doesn’t even move. I do think that if DK picks up his play, he will be Detroit’s next captain, and I’ve been saying that for a few years now. That last defenseman spot is a tricky one. Nick Jensen, Ryan Sproul, and Xavier Ouellet are all players that have upside, and Jensen is liked so much that Holland signed him to an extension earlier this year. But I think that last spot goes to XO, simply because he has the most NHL experience. Ouellet was solid this season with the Red Wings, and earned 60 games with the team.

Finally, we’ve got the goalies. This is so very tricky. You have to assume that if Jimmy Howard is protected, then Petr Mrazek will be picked up by Vegas. Jimmy had the better season by far, frankly. But, Mrazek suffered from his age 24 curse, and right after his birthday started playing like the Mrazek we saw in the 2015 playoffs. Howard has had injury issues the last few years, and Mrazek, at least right now, hasn’t really had much issue with injury. By now, you probably know who I’m going to say the Wings should protect. I think Petr Mrazek gets the nod here, simply because he’s younger, has a smaller cap hit, and hasn’t really failed to impress when he wasn’t 24.

 

After all that, the protection list looks like this.

F Henrik Zetterberg

F Frans Nielsen

F Tomas Tatar

F Gustav Nyquist

F Anthony Mantha

F Andreas Athanasiou

F Riley Sheahan

 

D Mike Green

D Danny DeKeyser

D Xavier Ouellet

 

G Petr Mrazek

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