Primary mission: Manipulate the roster so any subtraction will not detour the Yzerplan.
Assuming Yzerman elects to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender, here is an early look at the Red Wings’ protected list:
Red Wings Seven Forwards
- Tyler Bertuzzi: As long as he returns healthy, his chemistry with Dylan Larkin could help form a dynamic top line.
- Adam Erne: One of the most improved players on the roster this season. A 20-goal scorer next season?
- Robby Fabbri: What little offense the Red Wings generated, he likely was involved if he was on the ice.
- Dylan Larkin: The captain is still the heart of the organization.
- Michael Rasmussen: His skating has improved immensely over the past few years. His two-way potential remains intriguing.
- Givani Smith: The grit is there. He has too much untapped potential to expose at this point in his career. Plus, every team needs to dress an “enforcer” and he fills that role, such that it is these days.
- Jakub Vrana: After his deadline acquisition, he quickly became a fan favorite and transformed himself into a franchise building block.
- Vladislav Namestnikov: He’s a good depth piece, but expendable, even though Yzerman is a fan.
- Frans Nielsen: The veteran could return next season, but only if Seattle passes.
- Richard Panik: Probably one of Yzerman’s toughest choices. Panik or Smith? Both the Red Wings and Kraken could use Panik to balance their forward lines.
- Evgeny Svechnikov: Yzerman is lobbying the Kraken brass, “Take him … Take him … Please …”
- Dennis Cholowski: Three weeks ago the former first-rounder would have been left unexposed, but he showed enough late in the season to buy more time.
- Filip Hronek: A building block who displayed a growing offensive touch.
- Troy Stecher: Yzerman’s second-toughest choice, Stecher or Gustav Lindstrom? Stecher played an unsung, shutdown role during the second half of the season.
- Danny DeKeyser: Yzerman probably is hoping he will return for the final year of his contract.
- Gustav Lindstrom: Will the Kraken bite?
- Thomas Greiss: The way he finished the season (6-0-3), he gives Yzerman a sense of stability entering next season, the final year on Greiss’ deal.
- Kaden Fulcher: The prospect is just beginning to show what he can do at the AHL level. His exposure is convenient to protect Greiss.
Fast forward to July 21.
Kraken General Manager Ron Francis selects … Panik.