Wings Defenseman Rafalski Retires

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski announced his retirement on Wednesday, ending an eleven-year NHL career.

"This was probably the most challenging season of my career, physically, mentally, emotionally,'' Rafalski said during a Joe Louis Arena press conference.

Rafalski missed time during the 2010-11 campaign with back and knee injuries, limiting him to only 63 games played, the fewest in his career.

He said he made the decision with his wife two months ago.

In 833 regular season games played, Rafalski totalled 79 goals and 436 assists for 515 points.

Rafalski never missed the playoffs in his career, making the postseason in each of his seven years with the New Jersey Devils and then four more times with Detroit. He won three Stanley Cups in that time, two with the Devils and one with the Red Wings.

His route to the NHL was a unique one. After playing four seasons at the University of Wisconsin, Rafalski went undrafted. He headed to Europe, proving himself over four seasons in Sweden and Finland before New Jersey signed him as a free agent in 1999.

A Dearborn native, Rafalski came to the hometown Red Wings in 2007 via free agency.

Outside of his NHL career, Rafalski made two Olympic appearances for the United States, helping the team to silver medals in 2002 and 2010.

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Great player, but this would 1) Free up cap space and 2) let the wings get Younger and faster on the defensive end. Something I feel they DESPERATELY need.

Posted by RideTheRedWave on 5/24/2011 at 3:57 AM

 

Unfortunately, this is about the worst summer to have $6 million to spend. Ignoring RFAs 'cause I don't think Ken Holland will give up three draft picks this year, who's available?

Christian Erhoff? He won't come cheap. Tomas Kaberle? So much for getting younger. James Wisniewski? Kevin Bieksa? See Erhoff.

Free agent defensemen are going to get overpaid this summer 'cause there aren't a lot of them, especially the young ones. And none of the ones who might come for "cheap" replace Rafalski.

I'm excited about the possibilities but the timing sucks.

Posted by YzerFan19 on 5/24/2011 at 6:13 AM

 

timing doesnt suck to pick up a UFA because all of those players wont be getting over $6 mil deals. Majority of those players don't hit the cap at that much cash per year. Jovanoski has one of the higher salarys but I don't think wings would be interested in him. I believe we could pick up any of those UFA d-men you mentioned.

Posted by RideTheRedWave on 5/24/2011 at 6:03 PM

 

I'm sure VAN will re-sign Bieksa over Ehrhoff if they are forced to choose between the two players. That will suck, cause Bieksa is the best UFA D-man in my personal opinion. Based on overall ability. If that's the case, I think DET will be in a tough spot decision-wise. They can take a gamble on Tomas Kaberle (he's played god awful in Boston, but he was doing well in Toronto). They can also gamble on Andrei Markov (tough guy with great offense, although injury prone). To me, Jovanovski seems to have lost a substantial step. I guess he could be a decent fit though. Plus, he has ties with Bertuzzi from his days as a 'Nuck so I'm sure he would enjoy playing in Motown. I really don't know what to think about a trade for Bogosian. The dude was a -27 this past season. Even though ATL is garbage, that's still a horrible plus-minus number.

Posted by choyer on 5/26/2011 at 7:14 PM

 

They can also gamble on Andrei Markov (tough guy with great offense, although injury prone).


If the Wings have to gamble on a lower-tier guy, this is who I want them to gamble on. High risk, very high reward.

Posted by YzerFan19 on 5/26/2011 at 8:38 PM

 

Agreed on Markov although I still think Bogosian is a good choice despite the numbers. He is young and is good for 20 minutes or better of ice time per game. So far he hasn't shown he is prone to injuries although his numbers are not spectacular because he played his first few seasons for a run-of-the-mill Thrashers team who never gave him time to properly develop in the minors. The value added for Detroit (providing Nick is back for another season) would be to pick him up and put him with Lidstrom. His numbers in juniors indicate he is an offensive minded defensemen, has good vision on the ice, and the ability to get the puck to an open forward under pressure. He is also young, which means he can be an investment for the future.

Posted by SYfanSD on 5/27/2011 at 12:54 PM

 

Bogosian is an RFA though, it'd take a trade to get him.

Posted by YzerFan19 on 5/27/2011 at 11:59 PM

 

Two words... Ken Holland. If anybody can pull it off, he can.

Posted by SYfanSD on 5/28/2011 at 9:04 AM

 

I don't doubt it. In fact, the Wings and Thrashers were working on a deal at the trade deadline but Atlanta wanted too much (Filppula and a first-rounder or something like that). If Atlanta would take Hudler straight up, I'd do it, but it's possible not even Holland will be able to get them to come down on their asking price.

Posted by YzerFan19 on 5/28/2011 at 9:15 AM

 

I would be ok with it if Hudler was involved but not Dr. Fil... Too much value there.

Posted by SYfanSD on 5/28/2011 at 4:54 PM

 

Filppula is an enigma in my opinion. Some nights he appears to be somewhat Datsyukian. But he seems to follow up with a large slump where he over handles the puck and generates few scoring opportunities. Obviously, he's a great two-way forward (good hustler, good defense, good overall hockey sense) but he just doesn't seem to kick out quite enough offense for a second line center in my personal opinion. That leaves him on the 3rd line, but I really like Justin Abdelkader at that spot. Right now, he's in a really weird limbo in which the Wings can't make a firm decision. That being said, I think he'll need one more year in DET in order for the front office to make the right decision. I'm not sure if I feel comfortable trading him away.

As for Hudler... he seems to do okay when he is spoon-fed by Datsyuk. But Holmstrom is also in that same boat. He too needs to be spoon-fed. Holmer's advantage is a net-front presence, so Babs is forced to play Holmstrom on Datsyuk's wing instead of Jiri. Of course, Hudler could be placed on Datsyuk's other wing, but that would be one too many slow skaters on the same line. Sure, Datsyuk is a selke finalist, but even he can't cover for those two boneheads all the time. Furthermore, Hudler doesn't fit well on the second line because Bertuzzi and Franzen need to be in that spot with the aforementioned Filppula as the Center. Bertuzzi is a terrible bottom 6 player and Franzen just has too much upside to be down there. What I'm getting at is this... Hudler is in a limbo as well. But he hasn't shown the flashes of brilliance since before he left for Russia. And even then, you couldn't really even call them flashes of brilliance. I'd be comfortable trading him away, as I believe he's an easier player to replace than Valterri. Plus, I feel like Tatar is the same type of player with better wheels.

If I'm Kenny Holland (which obviously I'm not, since I'm sitting here on my comfy ass couch pretending like I know something), I package Hudler, a 2nd round pick and a possible AHL defenseman (Derek Meech?) for Bogosian. That way ATL has their roster spot filled by Meech since he definitely is capable of at least playing in the NHL. Plus they get their bonus in a possible Hudler resurrection and a draft pick.

Like SYfanSD said above, Bogosian could be placed with Lidstrom and would probably enjoy a career year while learning a thing or two about obscenely good positioning skills. If all else fails, let Smith take a run and see one if he can't play with the big boys right out of the gate... and who knows, maybe Hudler will wake his little czech-republic ass up and start playing hockey.

Posted by choyer on 5/29/2011 at 12:39 AM

 

The problem with Filppula (to borrow an argument from someone over at Malik's place) is that we keep being told he's a second line center. If you look at his production, he scores half as much as Datsyuk/Zetterberg while being paid half as much, but he never fits centering that second line.I like Fil on the second line. As a wing. It seems like he moves better when he's not centering the line.I really liked Abdelkader with Bertuzzi and Cleary when that was the second line (during all of the injuries) but Abs showed he was the weak link. He could be a second liner within a couple years but he's not one yet.


If I'm Kenny Holland (which obviously I'm not, since I'm sitting here on my comfy ass couch pretending like I know something), I package Hudler, a 2nd round pick and a possible AHL defenseman (Derek Meech?) for Bogosian. That way ATL has their roster spot filled by Meech since he definitely is capable of at least playing in the NHL. Plus they get their bonus in a possible Hudler resurrection and a draft pick.


That gets shot down right away because Meech is a UFA this summer and has already said he's not re-signing with Detroit. And ATL could have had him for free three times last season, means he has no value to them. I like the idea but the specific players aren't what the Thrashers think they can get for Bogosian.

Posted by YzerFan19 on 5/29/2011 at 9:06 PM

 

Yeah, you're very right. Bogosian still has a lot of upside and it's not right to make the assumption that ATL is stupid enough to give him away to us for nearly nothing. It's understandable why they have a high asking price. That being said, how high of a asking price would it really turn out to be? Maybe we are overvaluing Filppula, the additional roster player and the accompanying draft pick needed to make this deal become a reality. Statistically speaking, would we miss Filppula as much as we say we would? Would the draft pick we give as additional compensation actually be a decent pick? Would that roster player be a loss in terms of team depth?

As of now, I feel like Mursak and Tatar can fill in at any point and not be considered busts. I truly believe the loss of Fil and/or Hudler might not hurt as much as we think. I believe the 1st rounder we would need to give up would be a bottom-tier first rounder that wouldn't necessarily be amazing (although you can never adequately make that assumption with Hakan Andersson scouting for us). With our lack of solid defense this year, I think this deal would still make sense. I like Bogosian's size and strength. He reminds me of a young Brad Stuart with a little more offensive upside. I think he would definitely help our defense.

But going back to my original post from yesterday, maybe Smith and Kindl will turn out to be good enough. It's possible that we don't even need Bogosian, or any other high-priced UFA for that matter. What if we test them out for a year? If they don't perform, wait until next summer when the UFA class is a little deeper.

Posted by choyer on 5/29/2011 at 11:15 PM

 

I think the Thrashers are even less likely to come down on their asking price for Bogosian right now with the potential relocation looming. A deal for Bogosian probably won't happen.

Posted by -Al- on 5/30/2011 at 2:16 AM

 

I just hope Detroit doesn't sign Jovocop as their "big UFA signing of the summer". He's over the hill, IMO. And I also really hope Smith gets a chance. It would be sweet to see him play with Lidstrom on the second pairing... for two reasons. 1) Lidstrom on the second pairing would help keep his minutes in check and 2) Smith would learn a lot more playing with Nick for 20 minutes in DET than with Doug Janik in GR. Maybe the lines could look like this:

Kronwall-Stuart

Lidstrom-Smith

Ericcson-Kindl (although this might be a huuuge weak link)

Anyways, just more hypothesizing. There's no telling what ideas Holland has up his sleeve.

Posted by choyer on 5/30/2011 at 5:52 PM

 

I just hope Detroit doesn't sign Jovocop as their "big UFA signing of the summer". He's over the hill, IMO. And I also really hope Smith gets a chance. It would be sweet to see him play with Lidstrom on the second pairing... for two reasons. 1) Lidstrom on the second pairing would help keep his minutes in check and 2) Smith would learn a lot more playing with Nick for 20 minutes in DET than with Doug Janik in GR. Maybe the lines could look like this:Kronwall-StuartLidstrom-SmithEriccson-Kindl (although this might be a huuuge weak link)Anyways, just more hypothesizing. There's no telling what ideas Holland has up his sleeve.


What about this:Kronwall StuartLidstrom BogosianKindl SmithEricsson and Hudler for Bogosian

Posted by SYfanSD on 5/30/2011 at 7:58 PM

 

What about this:Kronwall StuartLidstrom BogosianKindl SmithEricsson and Hudler for Bogosian


I like that a lot. I'd be totally comfortable seeing that happen! However, I can still see ATL turning that down. They would probably make Kenny throw in a 1st round pick too just to sweeten the pot... which would suck.

Posted by choyer on 5/31/2011 at 1:04 AM

 

I just hope Detroit doesn't sign Jovocop as their "big UFA signing of the summer". He's over the hill, IMO.


Agreed 100%. He may be the "big name" I want least.


Smith would learn a lot more playing with Nick for 20 minutes in DET than with Doug Janik in GR.


Janik is on a one-way deal this year, he'll probably be the #7 defenseman in Detroit.


Ericsson and Hudler for Bogosian


Ericsson is UFA. If Atlanta wants him, they can get him for just the money, unless Detroit signs him and then deals him.

Posted by YzerFan19 on 5/31/2011 at 10:07 AM

 
Brian Rafalski

Brian Rafalski
Credit: Clark Rasmussen

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