In the latest instalment in the Last Word On Sports Expansion series, the online publication took a close look at Detroit Red Wings defenseman Xavier Ouellet to determine whether or not he’s worthy of earning protected status by his team for the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft.
Coming off a one year, $715,000 contract, it’s expected that the Wings will qualify and extend Ouellet for 2017-18 and beyond. In his first full season at the NHL level, the 24 year-old defender produced three goals and 12 points in 66 games. While those may not be lofty numbers for a player considered to lean closer to the offensive side of the ledger than the defensive side, his 29 points in 61 games at the AHL level in 2015-16 hint at some offensive upside.
Here’s the thing, the Wings can afford to be patient with Ouellet. He may not develop into the offensive dynamo that fans are hoping for, but it’s likely that he’ll become a full timer NHLer nonetheless. While it’s almost a guarantee that the Wings will protect defenseman Mike Green from their expansion list, it’s expected that Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson will both be exposed. The case has been made for Danny DeKeyser on both sides, but the team would still have room to protect Ouellet even if they determine to protect DeKeyser. So, at this point, all signs seem to point to the Wings protecting and keeping Ouellet in their lineup for 2017-18 and beyond.