The Hockey News’s Jared Clinton anticipates the Red Wings’ expansion draft protected list for the summer of 2021, when the Seattle franchise will enter the NHL and build its roster via an expansion draft’s worth of selections from each and every one of the NHL’s other 31 teams:
STRATEGY: Out with the old, in with (or hang on to) the new. Yzerman had his work cut out for him when he arrived in Detroit and replaced Ken Holland, the franchise’s longtime architect who has since departed for the Edmonton Oilers. One of Yzerman’s tasks is going to be sparking a full-on youth movement that centers around some of the bright young talent that has been compiled. That means protecting every piece of promising talent and leaving any veteran players who are available up for grabs.
Given that’s the plan, that means any veteran under contract at the time of the draft has been left unprotected. Nielsen? Unprotected. Abdelkader? Unprotected. DeKeyser? Unprotected. Together, those three skaters account for $14.5 million against the cap through the expansion draft and that’s money the Red Wings will want to rid themselves of around the time Seattle is making its way into the league.
THE NO BRAINER: Dylan Larkin isn’t just the offensive leader in Detroit, he’s a future captain and the centerpiece of the franchise. If there is one player on the roster today who can be built around, it’s Larkin, and as such he’s the safest bet for the Red Wings to use a protection slot on. Like a few others who’ve fallen into the no-brainer category throughout the Expansion Plan series, Larkin basically carries a no-movement clause without actually having the tag next to his name. That’s how important he is.