Here are my immediate reactions to the list revealed Sunday morning.
Here’s the Red Wings expansion protection list:
- F -- Dylan Larkin
- F -- Jakub Vrana
- F -- Tyler Bertuzzi
- F -- Robby Fabbri
- F -- Givani Smith
- F -- Michael Rasmussen
- F -- Adam Erne
- D -- Gustav Lindstrom
- D -- Filip Hronek
- D -- Nick Leddy
- G -- Thomas Greiss
Stecher left exposed
Again, the only real surprise here (to me, at least) is the decision to leave Stecher exposed and protect young Lindstrom instead. I am guessing Stecher would have been protected if not for the acquisition of Leddy on Friday. Or perhaps this was Steve Yzerman’s plan all along.
Stecher, 27, becomes an UFA at the end of the 2021-22 season. He costs $1.7 million against the cap. I am fairly certain he is Seattle’s pick from Detroit on Wednesday.
Stecher signed a two-year deal with Detroit in October 2020. He immediately helped improve the Red Wings defense with his quickness and skilled puck-moving ability. I was vocal about protecting him, but clearly the team values Lindstrom’s potential at just 22 years young.
Stecher also is coming off of a really strong international tournament for Canada and could have remained a good anchor on the blue line for the rebuilding Detroit squad, I argued. I would have rather seen him flipped at the trade deadline next year, but we can’t have everything we want!
I also haven’t been convinced that Seattle would have any interest in taking Lindstrom -- I think they’ll have their pick of defenseman in this draft. But we’ll assume Yzerman knows a bit more about what Seattle will be interested in.
Of course, Seattle may be more interested in taking Namestnikov. The 28-year-old center also first signed with Detroit in October -- a two-year deal with a $2 million cap hit each season. This season was a bit of a struggle for him with just 8 goals and 9 assists through 53 games played.
Namestnikov averaged a solid 16:11 of ice time this season, which is above his career average of 15:07, so it’s not like he wasn’t getting his opportunity. But the Red Wings offense struggled massively throughout the lineup. Namestnikov definitely was not alone in the team’s crowded “offensive struggles” department. However, I can’t say he did a heck of a lot to help Detroit’s cause.
We’ll have to see how this shakes out this week. Will the Kraken need a defenseman or center more?
I put the full list of unprotected Red Wings players here. As I noted before, it includes a healthy amount of players who are currently RFA or UFA status. Seattle can try to negotiate a new contract with those players before the expansion draft.
Among the list of unprotected Detroit players are veterans Danny DeKeyser and Frans Nielsen. They both have a year left on their contracts before becoming UFAs. DeKeyser, 31, costs $5 million against the cap while Nielsen, 37, is $5.25 million against the cap. I would not expect either is targeted in the expansion draft.
The expansion draft will be broadcast on Wednesday, July 21, at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2, SN, SN NOW, TVAS).
The actual draft later this week
Once we get through the expansion draft we move right into the 2021 NHL Entry Draft on Friday.
The Red Wings have the following 11 picks:
- 1st-round pick
- 1st-round pick -- acquired in Mantha trade with Capitals
- 2nd-round pick -- acquired from the Rangers in the Marc Staal deal
- 2nd-round pick (yes, that’s three in the 2nd round)
- 3rd-round pick -- acquired from Vegas in the Tomas Tatar trade
- 3rd-round pick
- 4th-round pick
- 4th-round pick -- acquired in the three-way Savard deal
- 5th-round pick
- 5th-round pick -- acquired in Merrill trade with Canadiens
- 6th-round pick
Here’s the overall NHL first-round 2021 draft order:
- New Jersey
- San Jose
- Los Angeles
View the rest of the picks here.
📅 Coming up:
- Wednesday, July 21 -- NHL Expansion Draft
- July 23-24 -- NHL Entry Draft
- July 28 -- Free agency begins