from Matt Larkin of The Hockey News,
The mini previews continue with the Central Division. Which teams should we expect each franchise to expose and protect? Which players are most likely to attract the Kraken’s tentacles?...
Help us, Seattle: General manager Steve Yzerman is almost done shedding pricy contracts from the previous regime, but a few remain. Center Frans Nielsen has a year left at $5.25 million, and defenseman Danny DeKeyser has a year left at $5 million. The Wings also inherited two seasons of right winger Richard Panik at $2.9 million in the Jakub Vrana trade. Panik obviously isn’t part of Detroit’s long-term plans. The catch here is that the Red Wings have little motivation to make side deals for cap help. They’re in the business of collecting picks and prospects, not trading them away and, because they’re years away from contending and have plenty of cap space, they don’t have an urgent need to clear many more ugly contracts.
Toughest decision: The Wings likely have to decide between rugged right winger Givani Smith and versatile veteran Vladislav Namestnikov for their seventh protected forward. Yzerman is obviously committed to youth, and Smith is almost six years younger, so that’s a vote for him. Namestnikov, however, has an established track record as a veteran who can play in any situation on any line. He probably has much more trade value down the road. So if we think of Namestnikov in terms of what pieces he could yield in a trade, you could make a case he has better protection value than Smith.
Top candidates to crack the Kraken: An experienced defenseman should be available for selection. Assuming Detroit holds onto Filip Hronek, Dennis Cholowski and Gustav Lindstrom, DeKeyser and Troy Stecher should be exposed, with Stecher probably the most likely Wing to get snapped up. It’s not a guarantee that Detroit protects Lindstrom over him, though.
Projected protected list (7-3-1):
more plus the other Central Division teams...