Expansion Draft: How Does Nick Leddy Change the Protection List?

Octopus Thrower

With the acquisition of Islander’s defenseman Nick Leddy, the upcoming expansion draft just became a little more complicated for the Red Wings. How much does Leddy change Detroit’s protection list?

Hronek and Leddy are Locks

Heading into the offseason, Filip Hronek was the only real lock for one of the three defensive protection slots. Hronek was the defenseman Jeff Blashill trusted the most this year; in the high-pressure situations (Especially protecting leads late in the game), Hronek was almost always on the ice. While his performance in 2020-21 didn’t match pre-season expectations or his point production, he is still an extremely important part of the rebuild – whether it be as an asset or a legit top-four defenseman.

Obviously, with Steve Yzerman going out of his way to acquire Leddy, he’ll occupy a second spot on the protection list. The puck-moving defenseman fills a desperate need on the left side of the blue line, but more importantly, the veteran can act as a role model for Detroit’s rising star, Moritz Seider. Whether or not you agree with the trade, Leddy will play an important role in Detroit’s rebuild, even if it’s just for a year.

The Third Spot is Wide Open

There are three real contenders for the final spot on the protection list: Troy Stecher, Gustav Lindstrom and Dennis Cholowski. Before the Leddy trade, many fans saw Stecher as an easy choice for the second protection spot, with the final slot going to either Cholowski or Lindstrom.

But with just one spot left, the situation has changed. Stecher is no longer an easy choice for protection – at 27, he has to compete with two younger players for the last spot. Yzerman runs a tight-lipped organization, so it’s impossible to get a read of what the team plans to do. The best way to predict Detroit is to look at how they’ve treated the players in the past, but there are problems here, too. Stecher was (Inexplicably) a healthy scratch more than once this season, Cholowski has hopped between Grand Rapids and Detroit for the past few years and Lindstrom has limited experience on the main roster. While the three didn’t receive Evgeny Svechnikov levels of mistreatment, none were favored by the organization.

Based purely on level of play, Stecher deserves the final roster spot. He was a defensive anchor this season, brining up the standard of play for whoever he was paired with. Cholowski and Lindstrom both were decent in their short stints on the team, but neither really stood out.

However, smart protection for a rebuilding team in the expansion isn’t about the short term, it’s about the future. The right side of the defense is a strength for both the main roster and the pipeline (Stecher is right-handed). Perhaps the biggest need for Detroit’s blue line? A left shot defenseman and/or a defender that can quarterback a powerplay. As a lefty and an offensive defenseman, Cholowski has the potential to fill both spots. If the Red Wings are really focused on upside and the future of the team, Cholowski should be the final defender protected. He has the youth and toolkit that Stecher doesn’t, and the upside that Lindstrom lacks.

Again, with Steve Yzerman at the helm, essentially any prediction in the offseason is an educated guess. With the addition of Leddy to Detroit’s defense, the whole situation just became a bit more complex – and a bit more entertaining.

Articles You May Like

What Can Red Wings Fans Expect From the 15th Overall Pick?
Ranking the Red Wings’ 2024 Offseason Priorities: Detroit’s Needs & Targets
Red Wings Notebook: Fabbri, Prospect Development & More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *