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Red Wings raise eyebrows by protecting Howard instead of Mrazek

Tampa Bay Lightning v Detroit Red Wings - Game Three

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 17: Petr Mrazek #34 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates a 2-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals with Jimmy Howard #35 during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Joe Louis Arena on April 17, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. Tampa Bay leads the series 2-1. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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Though his past accomplishments must be noted, Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland’s recent moves have been hit-or-miss, and many fans have been vocal about perceived mistakes. Sunday’s reveal of all 30 teams’ available and protected players lists won’t do Holland many favors.

In one of the biggest surprises of today’s reveal, it became clear that the Red Wings decided that their one goalie to protect would be Jimmy Howard instead of Petr Mrazek.

The decision drew national criticism to go along with local/fan critiques, too.

Note the two players’ ages and contract situations:

Howard: 33, $5.292 million through 2018-19
Mrazek: 25, $4 million through 2017-18

There are factors that could help explain the decision. Perhaps the Red Wings have a deal in place that might illuminate the choice. Maybe management simply believes that Mrazek wouldn’t return to the team after next season, anyway. Maybe Howard’s superior work over Mrazek in 2016-17 swayed management.

On face value, it’s one of the more puzzling decisions so far, even if the Golden Knights don’t scoop up Mrazek.

Check out the Red Wings’ protected and available players below, noting that Dylan Larkin ranks among those who were exempt:


Available Louis-Marc Aubry (F) Mitch Callahan (F) Colin Campbell (F) Martin Frk (F) Luke Glendening (F) Darren Helm (F) Drew Miller (F) Tomas Nosek (F) Riley Sheahan (F) Ben Street (F) Eric Tangradi (F) Adam Almquist (D) Jonathan Ericsson (D) Niklas Kronwall (D) Brian Lashoff (D) Dylan McIlrath (D) Xavier Ouellet (D) Ryan Sproul (D) Jared Coreau (G) Petr Mrazek (G) Edward Pasquale (G) Jake Paterson (G)

Protected Justin Abdelkader (F) Andreas Athanasiou (F) Anthony Mantha (F) Frans Nielsen (F) Gustav Nyquist (F) Tomas Tatar (F) Henrik Zetterberg (F) Danny DeKeyser (D) Mike Green (D) Nick Jensen (D) Jimmy Howard (G)