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The Detroit Pick; Why, Who, What’s Next?

It’s the one that jumped off the page the most of the 30 Expansion Draft selections. The Detroit Red Wings surprised the hockey world when they opted to protect Jimmy Howard over Petr Mrazek. They also had players like Luke Glendening, Darren Helm, and prospect Xavier Ouellet that appeared to make sense.

But all along, at least since Sunday morning when we saw the lists, the pick that made sense, whether Vegas was to keep the player or not was Mrazek. The 25-year old goalie who is an RFA at the end of this season appeared to be the perfect Expansion Draft pick, or flip. But then, the pick came, and McPhee says…

From the Detroit Red Wings, the Vegas Golden Knights select Tomas Nosek, Forward.

Undrafted, on an entry level contract that falls off at the end of the season, and has only played 17 games in his NHL career. So the question is, throw away pick, or superstar in the making?

Nosek, 24, has only 17 games of NHL experience but impressed the Red Wings during an 11-game stint this season. He had just one point (a goal), but he used his big body (6-3, 210) to drive to the net and go the hard areas of the ice. He also is strong defensively and a good penalty killer. -Ansar Khan, MLive.com

But before you even start to consider what Nosek may or may not become, we have to figure out what was wrong with Mrazek. He was clearly outplayed all season by Howard, and there was a growing thought that he has an “attitude problem.” Obviously, McPhee did not want him, and the dwindling goalie market (which ended up being completely non-existent) made it so that he couldn’t be used as a trade chip.

So, they had to move on. I get not wanting to spend the money on a Luke Glendening or Darren Helm, both of whose contracts run through 2021, but Riley Sheahan, the 25-year old center is only making about $2M and is an RFA at the end of 2017-18. Then there’s the French prospect, Ouellet. Most experts liked his upside and at 23 years old they could have picked up the RFA contract, dumped him in the AHL and seen what happens. But instead, they went with Nosek.

There are now three options with Nosek, and it will tell a lot about what McPhee thinks of him. Option 1, keep him around for the year. Option 2, sign Nosek to an extension. Option 3, buy him out.

Option 1 means he’s a flier. If he’s good, great, if not, no big deal. Option 2 means they think he’s a long-term prospect for the team and could be part of the “playoffs in three, Cup in six” plan. Option 3 means he’s a throw away.

My guess, from what I’ve read on the player and admittedly having never seen a second of him playing hockey, they’ll buy him out, save the $433,000, and have one less contract to deal with.

But, you’ve got to be rooting for Option 2. The “core” could use another guy, or six.

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9 Comments

  1. Trevor

    Nosek is probably the best forward they could have taken from the Wings. 41pts in 55 AHL games plus 22 in 19 playoff games. Only downside is that he’s a left winger, and they seem to have a lot of LW prospects (Leipsic, Carrier, etc.). Strangest pick at this point was Connor Brickley to me, from Carolina.

  2. James

    @Trevor
    ‘Strangest pick at this point was Connor Brickley to me, from Carolina.’

    Connor Brickley appears destined for the Chicago Wolves … Would we have got more than the fifth-round pick acquired from Carolina in the Connor Brickley deal at the trade deadline for Lee Stempniak? I would probably say so.

  3. RJ

    I get those three options, but wouldn’t those options exist with the much better player Sheahan or the much better prospect Ouellet? I’m pretty sure Ouellet is on a two-way contract so worst case put him in Chicago. I dont know, I feel like I THINK I understand what McPhee is trying to do, but I am still scratching my head.

    • I’m with ya, still not 100% sure I get it. This story isn’t one that’s going to go away. I hope to talk to George tomorrow.

      • James

        @Ken Boehlke
        ‘I hope to talk to George tomorrow.’

        I would love to hear the thought process behind passing on Marko Daňo for Chris Thorburn. Daňo has the higher upside/potential

      • Fibi

        Did VGK have to stay under the cap overnight, before the flips started happening? If so, that might help explain this pick.

        • That’s a really good question. It could also possibly be explained by Foley’s quote saying they originally selected too many defensemen and had to swap one out for a forward.

  4. James

    @RJ
    The minimum requirement of 13 forwards is probably the reason why McPhee passed on Ouellet. It doesn’t explain Sheahan. Whether you like it or not you have to select 13 forwards. Even if a defenseman is rated higher on your board.

    One could argue whether McPhee should have used one of the maximum 14 valuable defense selections on Deryk Engelland.

  5. Chris

    I think we have to keep in mind that the Knights don’t have a 4-5 year history of draft prospects in the system. For any team, based on expected injuries per season, you need a 2-3 Forwards and Defensemen ready to call up from the AHL at any point in the season. But without taking a few like that in the expansion draft, our AHL team would be full of 18 year olds and non-affiliated AHL players. I expect as McPhee makes a few trades this weekend, we’ll pick up even a few more prospects on the verge of call-ups as well.

    Nosek appears to be that kind of guy, but he is out of waiver exemptions, so he pretty much needs to be on the club at the start. But since he doesn’t have much NHL experience (11 games) there’s a good chance he could clear waivers if they need to send him down early.

    Also, he’s just cheaper than most. If you’re gonna take on some big contracts (and get picks for the cap space), then you have to take a few small contract fliers. Guys to fill out the 4th line that you hope develop beyond that. That’s my bet.

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