The Detroit Red Wings protection list for the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft has finally been revealed, which means the Seattle Kraken can finally begin to formulate their plan of attack. Looking at those left unprotected, there are four obvious candidates for Seattle to take: two risky selections and two safe ones.
Svechnikov would the ultimate risk out of for Seattle. At 24, he’s still a pretty underdeveloped player. Due to injuries and underwhelming play, Svech has yet to play a full season on Detroit’s main roster. In 2020-21, he played in 21 games as a Red Wing, the most in a single season in his career thus far. The year was a bumpy one for Svech; he frequented the taxi squad, played a few games with the Grand Rapids Griffins and was a healthy scratch more than once.
So why would Seattle even consider an often injured and relatively underwhelming prospect? Untapped potential. Although 2020-21 was a disappointing year for Svechnikov, it’s hard to place the blame on the player.
In a press conference, Jeff Blashill explained that Svechnikov had to earn his spot if he wanted to play consistently on the main roster:
He just needs to make sure that he wins every shift, make sure that he’s accountable, make sure he’s…you know you have to play as a five man unit and so to play as a five-man unit, you have to make sure everybody’s doing their jobs. So he has to make sure he’s doing his job in each particular instance. He’s got to make sure that he’s winning battles by skating. If he does that, I think he can be an effective player, so we’ll see.
Svechnikov did just that in the few chances he received on the main roster. While he wasn’t great defensively in his 21 games, he was a well above average offensive driver. Svech finished with a corsi percentage of 7.5 (Actually one of the best on the entire team) and netted three goals and five assists in the process. But it didn’t matter, as he received essentially the same treat despite his solid showings.
A change of scenery could change everything for Svechnikov. It’s not the most likely pick, but if Seattle wants a young winger that can drive offense in the bottom six, Svech might be the way to go.
Cholowski is in a very similar situation to Svechnikov. He hasn’t had a great couple of years with the organization; after spending most of 2018-19 and some of 2019-20 on the Red Wings, he was demoted to the Griffins to develop his defensive game. This year, Cholowski actually began his season in Grand Rapids, eventually making his way to Detroit after the trade deadline.
The defensive struggles have yet to end with Cholowski. Whether it’s his confidence or his skill level, he just can’t seem to translate his AHL success to a higher level. Cholowski played with confidence in Grand Rapids, scoring three goals and seven assists in 13 games as the team’s power play quarterback. He also played good defensively. But as soon as he was moved to Detroit, all the swagger seemed to disappear; he couldn’t quite handle power play responsibilities and he just seemed nervous with the puck on his stick.
Like Svechnikov, Cholowski could really thrive in a new organization. The Red Wings seems to be over Cholowski and Cholowski seems to be over them. In Cholowski, Seattle could have a power play quarterbacking defenseman with a great shot and good offensive toolkit. It’s risky, but if Seattle is looking purely at upside, Cholowski is the best bet out of Detroit.