Detroit Red Wings: It is time to think about the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft

(Photo by Jim Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Red Wings need to start thinking about the 2020 NHL Expansion Draft.

While the 2020-21 season is not fully in sight yet for the Detroit Red Wings, plans are being ironed out, but there is something else on the horizon. The Red Wings will need to start thinking about the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft as the league welcomes the Seattle Kraken as the 32nd franchise.

The organization has kept the contracts from this offseason to one-year deals, trying to keep the amount of two-year (or more) deals at a minimum. The front office, led by General Manager (GM) Steve Yzerman, has been doing the most to turn things around.

In his third year at the helm, he will be given another hoop to jump through with this expansion draft, having already gone through quite the 2019-20 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Yzerman will be just fine; if there’s one thing fans need to develop, it is trusted for Yzerman.

The Red Wings have two options for protecting players from being taken in the expansion draft by the Kraken: (Courtesy of’s press release)

  1. Keep seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie.
  2. Keep eight skaters and a goalie.

Both of these are following these conditions:

  • All of the players who have a No-Move Clause at the time of the draft who decline to waive those clauses must be protected and count towards the limits mentioned above.
  • First and second-year NHL players and all draft picks who are unsigned are exempt and do not count towards the limits mentioned above.

And on top of this, there are some boxes that need to be checked when it comes to the players the Red Wings are exposing for the Kraken to scoop up if they so choose. Granted, the Kraken will only select one of the Red Wings exposed players; they will have to plan around it and be smart with their selections.

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The Red Wings fans should not be worried; the odds are that they will only be exposing players like Dennis Cholowski, Taro Hirose, Gustav Lindstrom, and Givani Smith, which would suck, but the organization could recover.

The organization will have to start planning for this, but the team will be able to keep the core safe and avoid any major losses.

Other teams like the San Jose Sharks are not so fortunate. They could lose Brent Burns, whose contract might be a blessing to get it off their payroll, but still a big name to part ways with for that organization.

As the 2020-21 season gets underway, a deeper dive into the expansion draft and the protection lists will be in order, but Yzerman needs to make sure this is on his radar, which it seems like it has been.

Here’s another thing to ponder about the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft; Yzerman might make a trade. Teams are allowed to make trades to coerce the Kraken TO select someone or NOT to select them. These deals usually include a sweetener of a draft pick or prospect of some sort.

For the Red Wings, the narrative has been that the Red Wings can take on high-cap players to sweetener type trades. This time, the narrative could flip. Not that the Red Wings need to move Frans Nielsen, but if the organization really wants to move him after this year, they could try to package him and trade him to the Kraken for a price.

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The Detroit Red Wings are likely not going to lose anyone important in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, but it is still on the horizon.