Red Wings staff in Syracuse to talk draft, expansion

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The usual topics are on the agenda for the Red Wings’ front office this week as they hold pro scouting meetings.

But there’s one added item that will be debated and analyzed rather intently.

With Las Vegas entering the NHL this season as the league’s 31st team, there will be an expansion draft June 21 to help stock the Golden Knights.

Who to protect, and who to leave exposed — the Red Wings must submit their list by June 17 — will be a topic of discussion for sure Wednesday through Friday as the Red Wings’ management team comes together in Syracuse.

Why Syracuse?

The Grand Rapids Griffins, the Red Wings’ minor league affiliate, plays Games 3 and 4 Wednesday and Friday in Syracuse (the Griffins lead the best-of-seven series 2-0).

But before the Griffins’ games, there’s business to discuss.

And, this year, namely what to do with that protected list.

General manager Ken Holland said the front office has been talking internally about the protected list for over a year, debating who to protect and expose.

Teams can either protect eight skaters and one goalie, or seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie — the Red Wings will go the 7-3-1 route.

“We expect to lose a player who was on our roster,” Holland said.

Using the 7-3-1 formula, the seven forwards, arguably, could be Henrik Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Frans Nielsen (must be protected because of a no-movement clause) and Justin Abdelkader.

Players with less than two years of professional experience are exempt, so Dylan Larkin need not be protected.

That would leave Darren Helm, Luke Glendening, and Riley Sheahan, along with prospect Tomas Nosek, who has played so well in the AHL playoffs and was impressive in a late-season Red Wings’ appearance.

On defense Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green and either Xavier Ouellet or Nick Jensen are expected to be protected, with Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson, older, injury-riddled players with term on their contracts left, and Ryan Sproul, likely to be exposed.

Petr Mrazek could be the goaltender the Red Wings protect, although Jimmy Howard’s performance over the last year will make it a difficult choice.

The Red Wings will likely not protect goaltender Jared Coreau, who was inconsistent during a three-month stay with the Red Wings but has been one of Grand Rapids’ best players during its playoff run.

“We have to decisions to make,” Holland said. “We’ll meet and give opinions (on who to protect, expose). We’ll go over our lists. We’ll see if there is a move to be made that could make our team better.”

Holland talked with numerous general managers in Buffalo last week at the NHL Draft Combine, seeing if there’s a possible trade to make.

The Red Wings would love to acquire a puck-moving defenseman to strengthen the back end, and there are teams (Anaheim, Minnesota, Nashville, Winnipeg) who could have protection issues on defense.

“I’ll talk to most, if not all, of the GM”s and get an indication of what they’re thinking,” Holland said. “We’ll see if there’s a move out there that can make us a better team.”

Other than the expansion draft, the front office will do their annual due diligence at these meetings.

They’ll assess every player in the organization, other teams’ players, and discuss potential trade targets and anyone the Red Wings should pursue during unrestricted free agency on July 1.

The Red Wings held amateur scout meetings last week, formulating their plan of attack for the June 23-24 Entry Draft.

The Red Wings picked 9th overall and have 11 picks total in the Entry Draft.

Glendening surgery

Injuries badly dented the Red Wings during the season, and they’re not letting up in the off-season.

Luke Glendening, who injured his ankle late in the regular season, underwent left ankle surgery Monday to repair tendon damage, said the team in a statement.

Glendening is expected to be out 3-to-4 months, which makes his availability for the start of training camp unclear.

“The surgery was done to repair an injury he suffered late in the season,” Holland said in a statement. “We hoped he would improve with rest and immobilization, but we decided at this point that surgery was necessary to make sure he is ready for the 2017-18 season.”

Glendening missed the last seven games of the regular season because of a partially torn tendon and fractured ankle.

Glendening played in 74 games this season, with 3 goals and 11 assists (14 points) with a minus-10, plus-minus rating.

Tomas Tatar had shoulder surgery after the season ended and could need six months for rehabilitation, making him also questionable for training camp.

Justin Abdelkader had to decline a chance to play for Team USA at the world championships because of lingering knee soreness.

Griffins ready

Grand Rapids has an opportunity to win the Calder Cup if it can win two of the next three games in Syracuse.

But the Griffins realize it’s not going to be easy.

Syracuse is 9-0 at home during the playoffs. And the Crunch realize they lost Game 1 in the final seconds, and Game 2 in double overtime to Grand Rapids.

“They know they could have won both games, as well,” said Griffins coach Todd Nelson of Syracuse. “Right now they have the advantage going back to Syracuse, where they are unbeaten. They’re thinking ‘(Grand Rapids) took care of business, so let’s take care of business at home’.

“It’s going to be a battle. It’s two very good hockey teams going at it. It’s a lot of fun to watch.”

Calder Cup Finals

Syracuse vs. Grand Rapids

All games at 7 p.m.

Game 1: Grand Rapids 3-2

Game 2: Grand Rapids 6-5 (2OT)

Wednesday: at Syracuse

Friday: at Syracuse

x-Saturday: at Syracuse

x-June 13: at Grand Rapids

x-June 14: at Grand Rapids

x-If necessary