I very well could have written this earlier, but I needed time to digest what in the world happened. When I first saw the list, I didn’t have too much problem with it. However, after fully digesting it, I can’t say I’m a big fan.
The Wings protected forwards Justin Abdelkader, Henrik Zetterberg, Frans Nielsen, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Gustav Nyquist, and Tomas Tatar. Defensemen Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green, and Nick Jensen, along with goaltender Jimmy Howard.
Right off the bat, Justin Abdelkader, Nick Jensen, and Jimmy Howard stand out to me, so let’s talk about those to kick it off.
Protecting Abdelkader is genuinely idiotic. I hate to say it, but he’s getting older and has a bad contract that Vegas wouldn’t have picked up even if left unprotected. I get that he may be getting groomed to be the team’s future captain, but protecting him doesn’t make much sense even in the slightest. Riley Sheahan is who I had taking his spot in my prediction because he’s younger, and a proven producer offensively even after an off year. Leaving Sheahan exposed over Abdelkader is very, very risky, and I personally believe he will be who Vegas ends up taking.
I can’t give the Nick Jensen protection nearly as much scrutiny as Abdelkader or Howard’s. But what I can say is that the Wings didn’t need to protect him, and it would have been much smarter to protect Xavier Ouellet. Ouellet was one of the Wings’ best defenseman, not that that’s saying much, and responded well to and improved his play greatly after being benched. Even if Holland liked Jensen, he should have chosen Ouellet to protect over Mike Green or Danny DeKeyser, Green in particular. So I guess my beef isn’t necessarily with Jensen being protected, it’s really Ouellet not being protected. Ouellet is at the greatest risk, outside Riley Sheahan, of being selected
The Jimmy Howard protection, which I was fine with initially, and still am to some extent, doesn’t make much sense. He is an aging goalie, and an expensive one at that, that’s proven he struggles to stay healthy. Leaving Petr Mrazek exposed is, frankly, a dumb move because, despite being a roughly $4MM backup if they choose to take Fleury, they can take a cheaper, more consistent backup and flip Mrazek for picks. While I don’t believe Vegas will take Mrazek, it’s risky to leave him unprotected, especially when taking into consideration that he’s been great when he’s not 24 years old.
In terms of other players being protected, I can’t really get too upset about any of them, my prediction was *near* perfect, I got 3 of 11 wrong. I’ve already worked out my beef with Ouellet not being protected over any of the defenseman, and that was the only one that could’ve replaced anyone at his position, other than goalie obviously.
At this moment in time, I think Vegas will take Riley Sheahan. With one off year in an otherwise decent career, he’s shown he can produce offensively even when on the third line. Sheahan’s a big body as well, who can play rough when need be, he’d be a very good pickup for Las Vegas.