With the NHL expansion draft just one week away the rest of the league’s general managers are no doubt engaged in constant talks with Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee in an effort to protect players from selection in the upcoming draft.
In past expansion drafts teams have been willing to part with players or draft picks to convince a new team to stay away from certain players that had to be exposed, or to push them in the direction of a particular player. There are already several reports of Vegas being willing to select certain players in exchange for an asset or two.
Do not expect the Detroit Red Wings to be one of the teams willing to pay such a price.
Holland made it very clear on Wednesday that he is not willing to trade any future assets to Vegas to prevent McPhee from taking one of his players. He also acknowledged the Red Wings will be utilizing the seven forward, three defenseman, one goalie approach to the draft instead of the eight skaters (any combination of forwards and defensemen) and goalie option.
“I’m not prepared to pay any future assets to protect players on our team,” Holland told Sportsnet 960 on Wednesday. “We’re submitting seven, three, and one, and when we submit that list then [McPhee has] obviously the decision to make which player he’s going to take off our roster.”
He also said a trade is possible before the NHL roster freeze kicks in on June 17.
Probably the biggest decision Holland has to make is deciding which goaltender to make available — Jimmy Howard or Petr Mrazek. Howard was the superior goalie this past season, but Mrazek is eight years younger and has shown the potential to be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL, even if his play badly regressed in 2016-17. Mrazek is signed for one more year at $4 million before becoming a restricted free agent after next season. Howard still has two years left on his deal with a salary cap hit of $5.2 million per season.
The Red Wings are in a tough spot this offseason. They are clearly not a Stanley Cup contender at this point and just missed the playoffs for the first time in 25 years. So giving away future assets in any context is probably not something they want to do. But Holland and the front office also do not seem willing to fully commit to a complete teardown and rebuild, especially with the team going into a brand new arena this upcoming season.