Dear Red Wings: Expansion draft primer, Sergei Fedorov quiz

A closer look at who Red Wings may protect in Seattle expansion draft

Seattle Kraken logos (

We’re about a month out from the NHL’s Seattle Kraken expansion draft. Now’s a good time to get a handle on what to expect and how this will affect the Detroit Red Wings roster.

And today’s quiz is a special one: Sergei Fedorov. How well do you know our Russian friend?

Seattle expansion draft rules

The following is the NHL’s rules on how the expansion draft -- on July 21 -- for the league’s 32nd franchise will go:

Seattle must choose a minimum of 20 players under contract for the 2021-22 regular season and those with an aggregate Expansion Draft value that is between 60-100 percent of the prior season’s upper limit for the salary cap. The Kraken cannot buy out players chosen in the Expansion Draft earlier than the summer following its first season.

Another note: Seattle will select players from 30 of the 31 teams as Vegas is exempt from losing a player in this draft.

Current NHL teams have two player protection options:

  • Option 1: Protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie or
  • Option 2: Protect eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goalie

Under the following conditions:

  • All players with no movement clauses at the time of the draft, and who decline to waive those clauses, must be protected and will be counted toward their team’s applicable protection limits.
  • All first- and second-year professionals, and all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward protection limits.) There is more to this condition that allows players such as Filip Zadina to be exempt due the lack of games he played in his first season -- more on that below.

In addition, all NHL teams must meet the following minimum requirements regarding players exposed for selection in the draft:

  • One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played in at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.
  • Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.
  • One goalie who is under contract in 2021-22 or will be a restricted free agent at the end of his current contract immediately prior to 2021-22. If a team elects to make a restricted free agent goalie available to meet this requirement, that goalie must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the team’s protected list.
  • Players with potential career-ending injuries who have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games (or who otherwise have been confirmed to have a career-threatening injury) may not be used to satisfy a team’s player exposure requirements unless approval is received from the NHL. Such players also may be deemed exempt from selection.

CapFriendly has a really good page explaining this in even more detail -- check it out here.

There is a deadline for teams to submit their lists of protected players -- July 17.

UFAs and RFAs note

Free agency starts noon July 28, a week after this expansion draft and a few days after the actual entry draft (July 23-24). Based on the fact that Vegas was allowed to select UFAs (unrestricted free agents) and RFAs (restricted free agents) during its expansion draft, Seattle may do the same. These are players without contracts at the time of the expansion draft, and Seattle will have a 48-hour period (July 18-20) during which to try to sign one of these free agents -- one per team. That is at least how it worked during the Vegas draft.

That is a lot of rules. My head hurts.

Looking back: As you’ll recall, Vegas ended up grabbing left wing Tomas Nosek from the Red Wings in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. Nosek had just signed a two-year deal with Detroit in 2016. He originally was undrafted and signed as a free agent out of the Czech league. He’s 28 now with 66 points through 257 games in the NHL.

The Red Wings protected seven forwards, three defenseman and a goalie in that draft: Frans Nielsen (won’t be protected this time!), Justin Abdelkader, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg, Danny DeKeyser (also clearly won’t be protected), Mike Green, Nick Jensen and Jimmy Howard. As noted, Nielsen and DeKeyser are the only two on this list who are still on the Red Wings (Abdelkader would be, too, if not for the buyout), and they’re definitely not going to be protected due to their contracts and age.

What could we expect from the Red Wings this time?

Obviously Steve Yzerman and crew have a lot of options. I mean, a lot of options here, especially since the Red Wings already have a boatload of contracts coming off the books this offseason. What I mean by options is there is a list of contracts that Yzerman won’t want to extend, leaving those UFAs and many RFAs open for the taking.

Before I list who the Red Wings might be protecting, remember that prospects including Moritz Seider, Joe Veleno, Lucas Raymond, Filip Zadina, are exempt. Phew. That’s kind of all I care about. As it turns out, any Red Wings player drafted later than 2018 is exempt. Zadina would have been eligible for the expansion draft but he didn’t play enough games in his first season. So when people were crying about allowing him more games at the NHL level, they probably weren’t thinking about this moment.

Without further delay: Who will the Red Wings actually protect?

Assuming the Red Wings go with Option 1 (7 forwards, 3 defenseman, 1 goalie), here’s a guess at who they decide to protect in this expansion draft:

There are some decisions to be made, yes. If this is what the Red Wings’ protection list really does look like, then players including Givani Smith, Taro Hirose, Evgeny Svechnikov, Jonathan Bernier (UFA status), Dennis Cholowski (RFA status), Luke Glendening (UFA status), Darren Helm (UFA status), Valtteri Filppula (UFA status), Richard Panik, Bobby Ryan (UFA status), Nielsen and DeKeyser all would be unprotected.

I have one question: Does Seattle really only get to take one?!

Seriously, though, I’d hate to see Bernier go for nothing. He has UFA status right now and I think all signs point to the Red Wings wanting to bring him back for at least another season, but will they protect him over Greiss? The general rule is you have to protect existing contracts, I suppose -- Greiss is under contract through 2021-22. The Red Wings have another goalie, Kaden Fulcher, who could get grabbed in this expansion draft, though I doubt it.

I’d also hate to lose Givani Smith or Svechnikov for nothing. But we’ll see how it plays out.

As for the defense, I think you have to protect Stecher right now. He’s only 27, is coming off of a really strong international tournament for Canada and could remain a good anchor on the blue line for the rebuilding squad. Stecher helped the Red Wings become more stable on defense this season. He only has a year left on his contract. I’d rather seen him flipped at the deadline than plucked from Detroit during the expansion draft.

Hronek and Lindstrom, meanwhile, seem like very obvious protections to me, more so than Cholowski, certainly. Hronek, 23, is perhaps the most talented young defenseman the Red Wings have, outside of Seider and Lindstrom (22). I don’t see the Red Wings protecting any UFAs, such as Marc Staal, so it has to be Hronek and Lindstrom. It’s not that complicated, right?

The Red Wings shouldn’t be worried in the least about this expansion draft. If anything, it should help Yzerman’s rebuild effort a little bit.

If you’re going through a bottomed-out rebuild, an expansion draft is no problem. Bring it.

Mathias Brome note

If you had not seen, Mathias Brome signed with HC Davos of the Swiss National League back in May. He had RFA status after his one-year contract with Detroit expired, and technically the Red Wings could still send him a qualifying offer, but that’s not likely. He would be exempt from the expansion draft.

The 26-year-old winger appeared in 26 games for the Red Wings this season. He had a goal and an assist. It never seemed to click for him despite some good looks earlier in the season. It’s not easy transitioning from Europe to the NHL, for sure. Yzerman took a chance on him for a year -- no harm, no foul.

By the way: Christian Djoos also signed overseas in May. He also was a restricted free agent.

Quiz time

Here’s a quick little quiz about the man, the myth, the legend: Sergei Fedorov.

Friendly reminder: Fedorov is in Hall of Fame; time for Red Wings to retire No. 91?

I can’t speak about, write about, think about Fedorov without calling for the No. 91 retirement. I’m not sorry about this.

As I wrote in 2015: He was a super star, but more precisely he was the super star’s super star. Other players, not just fans, marveled at his dominance up and down the ice. He was smarter, faster, stronger, more talented and he played with supreme confidence. It appeared even before puck-drop he knew he was going to best his opponent and leave everyone screaming “Sergei!” inside the Joe. He played center, the wing and even defense. He made it look fluid, easy, and second-nature.

I wrote even more here. Just sayin’. I’ll never stop.

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About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.