NHL Expansion Draft: Which Red Wings player will end up in Seattle?

Detroit News

Detroit — The roster the Red Wings have today isn’t going to look the same by Wednesday evening.

The Wings and 29 other NHL teams (Vegas is exempt) are each going to lose one player, as the Seattle Kraken stockpile their first roster in the NHL Expansion Draft.

The Wings released their protected list Saturday, players unable to be poached by Seattle, and there were few surprises.

Forwards Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Jakub Vrana, Robby Fabbri, Adam Erne, Michael Rasmussen and Givani Smith, defensemen Filip Hronek, Nick Leddy and Gustav Lindstrom, and goaltender Thomas Greiss were protected.

That left some useful, interesting names for the Kraken to consider, heading into Wednesday’s draft.

For subscribers: Ted Kulfan’s 2021 NHL mock draft 2.0: Plenty of questions, unknowns, heading into weekend

Here is a list of unprotected Wings, with the likeliest to be picked by Seattle at the top. There are also pros and cons associated with each player, relative to why Seattle would, or would not, pick the player.

Troy Stecher

►Pros: Depending how the Kraken fill out the remainder of their roster, a player like Stecher does a nice job complementing the lineup.

The Wings saw that last season, as Stecher supplied energy to the lineup with his all-out style of play and had impressive defensive analytic numbers.

Stecher is only 27, he has one year left on his contract at an extremely manageable number ($1.7 million) and he’s from nearby Vancouver.

Perfect team guy in the locker room.

►Cons: There are many Stecher types available for Seattle in this draft, some younger and cheaper.

If Seattle decides to load up with some big names, that might be a consideration.

The Kraken might be just as intrigued by younger defenseman Dennis Cholowski off the Wings’ unprotected list. Another Vancouver kid, younger (age 23), and under team control for three more years.

Dennis Cholowski

►Pros: The former first-round pick has twice started an NHL season with the Wings but was eventually sent back to Grand Rapids each time. Last season, Cholowski played 13 games with the Griffins (10 points) and 16 games with the Wings toward the end of the season.

Each time, defensive shortcomings and lack of overall consistency were usually reasons Cholowski couldn’t stick in the NHL.

Offensively, Cholowski has showed enough to be an eventual NHL regular.

Being so young, and inexpensive, and also from the area, there’s a lot to like. You also get the feeling going to a new team, a new situation, may benefit Cholowski and unlock his talent.

►Cons: It’s fair to wonder whether the defensive issues will ever get any better, and Cholowski still hasn’t shown the consistency to run an NHL power play.

Some of the younger defensemen available play with a bit more bite to their games, which might give Seattle an edge playing in the Western Conference.

More: Another Peterborough center, Mason McTavish could jump-start Red Wings rebuild

Evgeny Svechnikov

►Pros: This would be another minor gamble for Seattle, going with a younger player who simply might need a fresh start, a new coaching staff and an opportunity.

In brief opportunities with the Wings, Svechnikov hasn’t looked out of place. He had eight points in 21 games last season, after twice being waived (and no team selecting him).

Svechnikov is motivated and driven, and going to a situation like this might work well for both sides.

►Cons: You really wonder about the lengthy list of injuries, including a knee problem that cost him an entire season.

At age 24, Svechnikov is past the prospect stage of his career, so what you see is likely what you’re going to get. And while Svechnikov does a variety of things well, there isn’t anything that really stands out.

If the Wings don’t qualify Svechnikov, he’s a restricted free agent. Seattle might be able to sign him as an unrestricted free agent if it truly has interest.

Vladislav Namestnikov

►Pros: Namestnikov has been a classy, versatile, dependable player wherever he’s gone and an expansion team would surely benefit from him being in the lineup.

With one more year left on his contract at $2 million, Namestnikov wouldn’t take much salary cap space and he’s only 29. He came as advertised to the Wings, being able to play both special teams and capable of playing on a scoring or checking line.

After Seattle fills out its top two scoring lines, if the salary numbers fit, Namestnikov would be a quality fit on the third line. And he has shown the ability to play either center, or wing, in his career effectively.

►Cons: Again, it’s a situation where the Kraken will have younger and more inexpensive options available, depending on how they decide to stock the roster.

Namestnikov had eight goals last season, but five were empty-net goals. That spoke to a disappointing season offensively. A bit more was expected, especially five-on-five.

Danny DeKeyser

►Pros: DeKeyser is a proven NHL defenseman, plays major minutes, and has one year on his contract at $5 million. A veteran who can play against other team’s top lines, DeKeyser would be a shrewd addition to the Kraken.

Coming off back surgery, DeKeyser showed he was healthy and looked physically stronger as the season went on.

►Cons: The back surgery, which will make any team hesitant. It took much of the first half of the season for DeKeyser to get back his strength and be a key part of the lineup.

For Seattle’s money, there will be other options who are healthier and were more productive. It might be a different story if DeKeyser was just several years younger.

Frans Nielsen

►Pros: If Nielsen, 37, was five-10 years younger, it might be a different situation. He was one of the better two-way centers in the game.

►Cons: With one year left at a $5.25 million cap hit, Nielsen is still a candidate to be bought out by the Wings, and Seattle isn’t going to be interested.


Twitter: @tkulfan

NHL Expansion Draft

 ►When: Wednesday, 8 p.m.

►Where: Seattle


►What’s next? Seattle must choose a total of 30 players (at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies), with a salary figure that is between 60-100% of the $81.5 million salary cap ceiling.

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