Well, this is certainly an interesting and unexpected development.
The NHL expansion draft is June 18-20, and each team was able to protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goaltender from being exposed to the draft for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) June 18, 2017
The Detroit Red Wings submitted their list of protected and unprotected players, and the goaltender they chose to expose to the expansion draft is Petr Mrazek.
Despite his unofficial label as Detroit’s goaltender of the future, Mrazek struggled last season. He amassed a 18-21-9 record with a 3.04 goals-against average and .901 save percentage. He’s entering the second season of a two-year deal with a cap hit of $4 million that was signed during the summer of 2016.
Jimmy Howard, however, bounced back after a sub-par year two years ago. He appeared at one time to be the odd man out and was was thought by many that the team would look to move him, but his hefty contract made that difficult. He’s on the books for an additional two years with a cap hit of $5.3 million. Also, at 33 years of age, Howard is eight years Mrazek’s senior, raising further questions as to Holland’s reasoning.
While this decision by GM Ken Holland doesn’t mean that Mrazek’s time in Detroit is finished, it may be a wakeup call to him. Should he remain a Red Wing, he’ll likely come into training camp prepared to fight for the starting position and prove that he’s deserving of number one status.
Additionally, the Red Wings left forwards Riley Sheahan, Darren Helm, Luke Glendening, and Tomas Nosek. Goaltender Jared Coreau was also exposed, despite having just led the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins to the Calder Cup title last week.
Detroit opted to protect forwards Justin Abdelkader, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg and Frans Nielsen. They also chose to protect defensemen Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser, and Nick Jensen. Veterans Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson were left unprotected, but aren’t likely to be selected by the Golden Knights. Additionally, defensemen Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul were left unprotected.
Because they have two years or less of NHL experience, Dylan Larkin as well as prospects Tyler Bertuzzi and Evgeny Svechnikov were protected.
The 2017-18 Red Wings team will look a bit different than the squad who missed the playoffs for the first time in 26 years, but it will certainly be odd to see Jimmy Howard as the main man in the crease moving forward rather than Petr Mrazek.