Red Wings prepared to submit protected list for expansion draft

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The first domino is about to fall in what could be a busy period of personnel moves for the Red Wings.

The Wings must submit their protected list for Wednesday’s NHL Expansion Draft — stocking the roster of the new Seattle Kraken — by Saturday at 5 p.m. (EST). The NHL is expected to publicly release the lists Sunday.

Troy Stecher could be unprotected in the expansion draft.

After the expansion draft, there is the NHL Entry Draft July 23-24 and the start of unrestricted free agency on July 28. That could bring a flurry of activity surrounding all 32 teams.

General manager Steve Yzerman talked about this whirlwind stretch at his season-ending news conference.

"Things will happen really quickly once you get close to that expansion draft,” Yzerman said. “We have to be really prepared for the draft, then free agency — to get ourselves organized to make sure we have identified any targets in free agency and be prepared to go.

"Because once we get the expansion draft, the NHL Draft and the free agency period, that will all happen very quickly."

More: 'Class of his own': Swedish goalie Jesper Wallstedt giving teams reason to be drafted high

Friday's acquisition of defenseman Nick Leddy for forward Richard Panik and a second-round draft pick in next week's entry draft does make compiling the protected list a bit more interesting.

The Wings have some decisions to make while formulating their protected list.

Teams have the option of protecting either seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters (non-goalies) and one goalie.

The 7-3-1 option is the preferred option by most teams, and the one the Wings are likely to choose.

For a player to be eligible for the expansion draft, they must have played more than two professional seasons at the conclusion of the 2020-21 campaign. That makes young players such as the Wings' Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno and Moritz Seider ineligible because they have yet to play the required number of games.

Unrestricted free agents, such as Luke Glendening, Jonathan Bernier and Marc Staal, don't need to be protected.

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 to 100% of the 2020-21 cap hit (minimum $49.8 million, ceiling $81.5 million).

Using the 7-3-1 format, the Wings appear to have a choice to make regarding the seventh forward, and, likely, at least one of their eligible defensemen.

Goaltender Thomas Greiss will be the goaltender protected.

Among the forwards Dylan Larkin, Jakub Vrana, Robby Fabbri, Tyler Bertuzzi, Adam Erne and Michael Rasmussen appear locks to be protected.

That leaves Givani Smith, Vladislav Namestnikov, Frans Nielsen, Evgeny Svechnikov and Richard Panik as notable players to be left unprotected.

Of that group, Smith, because of his age (23), potential, and the fact he's under team control for several more years, appears to be the choice to be the seventh forward.

On defense, Filip Hronek is a lock to be protected, along with Leddy, who has one year left on his contract at $5.5 million and is a dangerous offensive defenseman.

That would leave one of a group including Danny DeKeyser, Dennis Cholowski, Troy Stecher and Gustav Lindstrom to be protected — and three of them not.

One of Cholowski (23) and Lindstrom (22), because of their ages and potential, would likely to be kept. DeKeyser, 31, has one year left on his contract at $5 million, while Stecher has one year at $1.7 million.

If the Wings' protected — and unprotected — list is close to this one, it's a good chance Stecher would be Seattle's choice. At 27, Stecher is in his prime, is coming off a good showing for gold-medal winning Team Canada at the recent world championships, and is from nearby Vancouver.

But Cholowski is also from Vancouver and is a former first-round pick who has yet to show the consistency to stay in the NHL. Lindstrom is a safe, sound defensive defenseman.

Twitter: @tkulfan