DETROIT – Jimmy Howard is eight years older than Petr Mrazek, but he appears to be the goaltender they want to keep moving forward.
The Red Wings opted to protect Howard and expose Mrazek for the expansion draft.
The NHL released every team’s protected list Sunday morning.
In addition to Howard, Detroit protected forwards Justin Abdelkader, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg and Frans Nielsen, who must be on the list due to his no-movement clause.
The Red Wings also protected defensemen Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green and Nick Jensen.
This leaves exposed forwards Riley Sheahan, Helm, Luke Glendening and prospect Tomas Nosek. Dylan Larkin and prospects Tyler Bertuzzi and Evgeny Svechnikov are exempt because they have two years or less of pro experience (NHL or AHL).
On defense, young Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul were exposed, as were veterans Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson, who won’t be taken due to their age, hefty contracts and declining performance.
In addition to Mrazek, Jared Coreau, the goalie who led the Grand Rapids Griffins to the Calder Cup championship, was exposed.
General manager Ken Holland declared long ago that he would protect seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie as opposed to the second option (eight skaters regardless of position and a goalie).
Teams can still make deals with Vegas, offering assets to ensure the Golden Knights don’t select a certain player, until 8 a.m. Wednesday. Several deals are reportedly in place already but can’t be announced until after Vegas’ selections (30 players – one from each team) are revealed Wednesday during the NHL Awards (8-10 p.m., NBCSN).
Mrazek, 25, has struggled the past year and a half. He was 18-21-9 last season with a 3.04 goals-against average and .901 save percentage. Howard, 33, meanwhile, excelled, despite a 10-11-1 record due in large part to lack of offensive support. He posted a 2.10 GAA and .901 save percentage.
Mrazek won’t necessarily be claimed, since Vegas has more attractive options, including Marc-Andre Fleury of Pittsburgh and Antti Raanta of the New York Rangers.
Coreau might not appeal to the Golden Knights because he’s unproven at the NHL level (he had some good outings and poor performances last season with the Red Wings).
Howard has two years remaining on his contract at a $5.3 million cap hit. Mrazek has one year left at $4 million and will be a restricted free agent in 2018.
Sheahan is a candidate to be selected. Despite going 79 games without a goal before scoring twice in the season finale, he’s big (6-3, 222), young (25), has a manageable contract (one year remaining at $2.075 million) and remains under club control in 2018 as a restricted free agent. Many believe 2016-17 was a fluke, since he was productive for a third-line player the previous three seasons.
Ouellet also could appeal to the Golden Knights. He turns 24 next month, moves the puck well and plays with a bit of an edge, though he’s not projected to provide a lot of offense. Sproul is intriguing because he’s big (6-4, 215), has a booming right shot and offensive upside. But he has struggled defensively as a pro. He might not be ready for the start of the season after surgery to repair a torn ACL.