Welcome back to our Seattle Expansion Draft Series. If you haven’t read the first article that lays out the rules of the expansion draft, that would be a good starting point, as I’ll only give the very basic rules in each of these follow up articles. If you are interested in Detroit, that was the second article.
This week, I’m going to take a look at Detroit again, after the trade deadline saw some additions and subtractions. Keep in mind that this is still open to change, and I’m simply laying out what I think the team will choose based on everything through today (April 15 as I’m writing this)
The 2nd article in this series focused on Detroit as of about a month and a half ago, and I’m not going to repeat everything in there. If you didn’t read that article, I think it’s a good idea to do that first to have the most complete picture of where I think Detroit is.
I’m not making any changes here. If Detroit extends Jonathan Bernier, then they will obviously protect him, but until then, I’m putting Thomas Greiss here. I don’t think that Seattle would try to sign Bernier if he’s left unprotected, but if Detroit is really concerned about that, they can protect him. Seattle isn’t taking Greiss.
I’m also not making changes here. Filip Hronek is clearly getting protected. After that, Troy Stecher has played well enough that Detroit will want to keep him around at least next year, especially for $1.7 million. He has the second highest Standing Points Above Replacement (both total and per 60) behind only Jon Merrill this season for Detroit defensemen, using Evolving Hockey. That puts him 53rd in the NHL. It would be asset malpractice to lose him for free.
I’m still picking Dennis Cholowski as the third defender protected, although now that he and Gustav Lindstrom are getting regular time in the lineup, we could see something down the stretch to change that.
As of right now, the team has more invested in Dennis Cholowski and his 90+ games of NHL experience, but I don’t think his spot is as solid as the other two. Lindstrom has about 1/6th the minutes played at this level but I don’t think it would take an unrealistic turn of events heading to the end of the season for Lindstrom to surpass Cholowski.
Jakub Vrana will take Anthony Mantha’s spot. He is not currently under contract, and technically Detroit could leave him unprotected if they think that Seattle won’t try to sign him to a contract during their 2 day free agency period before the expansion draft, but I see no world in which Detroit takes that gamble, especially after trading Mantha to acquire him.
The names that I think are pretty much guaranteed at this point are Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Robby Fabbri, and Michael Rasmussen. That leaves two open slots, and begins the discussion that many Red Wings fans have had this season, but which has a new wrinkle.
First off, if we look at the exposure requirement for forwards, Detroit now has three players who meet the conditions: Frans Nielsen, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Richard Panik. As the roster currently stands, two of those three must be exposed. Panik was acquired as a salary dump for Washington, and while I’m not saying he has no playing value to Detroit, he’s not entering as a must-protect player like Vrana is.
Frans Nielsen is 100% getting exposed. Right now I think that Richard Panik will also be exposed, and Namestnikov will be protected. This could change based on the play of both down the stretch. They could both be exposed.
The last protection slot is again going to be tough. It’s very unlikely that Adam Erne is going to continue scoring at the pace he’s on. That being said, he’s showing that he will go to the dirty areas where a lot of scoring chances reside, something that we don’t see from too many other players on the team. If we look at his impact outside of scoring, according to Evolving Hockey, he has a positive 2.5 Corsi differential per 60 at 5v5, which is second on the team behind Dylan Larkin. He’s produced lately on a line with Luke Glendening and Darren Helm, and while Helm is very close to Erne’s Corsi differential per 60 on the season, Glendening is at -2.68.
Using Evolving Hockey’s WAR metric SPAR / 60 (Standings Points Above Replacement per 60 minutes), He’s the fifth best forward on the Red Wings at contributing to points in the standings per 60 minutes.
This isn’t a full deep dive on Adam Erne, but the point I want to make is that he’s helping the team in ways that aren’t just scoring goals. His shooting percentage will inevitably regress to the mean, but he’s shown that he can still be a helpful player to keep around, at least in the short term.
That of course leaves two players whom I really like on the outside looking in. I thought that Givani Smith showed last year that he was an NHL player. His ceiling is probably a third line winger with “effective 4th line winger” much more likely. At the same time, while I like him personally, I don’t think I can say objectively that Detroit will regret things if Seattle were to take him.
The player I currently think that Seattle will take is Evgeny Svechnikov. My opinion is that he should have been in the lineup earlier and more consistently, since the team is going to have to make two important decisions at the end of this season: Do they re-sign him, and do they protect him?
He’s shown flashes of the player that we have been wanting to see ever since he was drafted. He’s shown that he has an accurate shot that he can get off quickly in tough situations. He’s also cleared waivers twice this season.
I think the waivers piece says more about how Detroit sees him than how the rest of the league sees him. Many players have passed through waivers that seemed like they would have been claimed, so I think it’s hard to put too much value on him not being claimed.
When we look at Evolving Hockey, we see that in 14 games so far, he’s been a positive possession player at even strength, and while his actual goal differential is negative, his expected goal differential is positive. More goals are scored by the other team when he is on the ice, but the better chances are going to Detroit.
Unfortunately for him, his Standing Points Above Replacement rate metric shows him as the second lowest on the team. Right now, that’s a 14 game sample, and I’d like to see at least 20 games. Even so, he’s not creating this positive impact that we’d like to see in his overall game to this point.
I think that of the likely exposed players, Svechnikov has the highest chance of being better for Seattle than he has been for Detroit, and that’s why I think he will be wearing a Kraken sweater next year.
There are still 3 months before the protection lists have to be submitted to the league, and we’ll take at least one more look at the team before then. Could things be different by then? Sure!
Current Predicted Protections
(Italics = changes from last time)
Notable Unprotected Players