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.