Detroit — After much hand-wringing and speculation, the availabile and protected lists for Wednesday’s expansion draft were released Sunday morning.
There were some big and surprising names around the NHL, but for the Red Wings, the list was pretty much as expected.
They protected seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender, as expected, leaving off several notable (but not surprising) names.
On defense, the Wings protected Filip Hronek and newly-acquired Nick Leddy, along with young defenseman Gustav Lindstrom.
That leaves Danny DeKeyser, Dennis Cholowski and Troy Stecher as available defensemen for the expansion Seattke Kraken.
Among forwards, the Wings protected Tyler Bertuzzi, Adam Erne, Robby Fabbri, Dylan Larkin, Michael Rasmussen, Jakub Vrana and Givani Smith.
Keeping the younger Smith put Vladislav Namestnikov on the available list, along with Frans Nielsen and Evgeny Svechnikov.
Thomas Greiss was the goaltender protected.
Unrestricted free agents such as goaltender Jonathan Bernier, defenseman Marc Staal, and forwards Luke Glendening, Darren Helm, Bobby Ryan and Sam Gagner didn’t need to be protected.
So, who will the Kraken choose off the Wings’ available list?
Chances are, it’ll come down to picking between Stecher, Cholowski and Namestnikov.
Stecher, 27, has one more year on his contract at $1.7 million, and is coming off an impressive performance as an alternate captain for Team Canada at the men’s world championships.
Stecher had three goals and eight assists in 47 games with the Wings, had a minus-13 rating, and played in many different situations. Stecher’s all-out style of play on the ice, and his fierce approach to the game, quickly made him a fan favorite among Wings fans.
Being from Vancouver, Stecher would be a quasi-hometown favorite, also, while providing Seattle with a viable, veteran third-pairing defenseman.
Cholowski, 23, a 2016 first-round draft pick, played in 16 games last season, with one goal and two assists.
Cholowski has split time between the Wings and the minor-league Grand Rapids Griffins the last three seasons. But he has been unable to land a regular spot in the lineup. His lack of defensive consistency has been issue, which made the Wings choice to protect Lindstrom not surprising.
DeKeyser, 31, has one year left on his contract, ($5 million cap hit). Coming off back surgery a year ago, Seattle isn’t expected to be interested in the veteran.
Namestnikov, 28, has a year left on his contract at $2 million, after — like Stecher — signing a two-year free agent contract last summer.
Namestnikov played in 53 games, with eight goals and nine assists (17 points), while being used in a variety of ways by coach Jeff Blashill.
The Kraken have some recognizable, star-worthy names available to sift through — although they are getting older and are awfully expensive, while constructing their roster.
Some notable names available include goaltender Carey Price (Montreal), forwards Jeff Skinner (Buffalo), Tyler Johnson, Yanni Gourde, Ondrej Palat and Alex Killorn (Tampa), Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis), and defenseman Mark Giordano.
Quite a few teams are expected to be make side deals with the Kraken in order for Seattle to steer clear of certain players.
Each team can only lose one player.
Seattle must select at least 14 forwards, a minimum of nine defensemen, and at least three goalies. The total salary cap hit of the players Seattle takes must be between 60 and 100% of the 2020-21 cap hit (minimum $49.8 million, ceiling $81.5 million).