40-Year-Old Defenseman – Free Agent
Brian Rafalski Contract Information:
Signed a five-year, $30 million contract in July 2007 with Detroit.
Rafalski will announce his retirement Wednesday, NHL.com reports.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
There was no outlook written for Brian Rafalski.
Another number of the Red Wings' 35-and-over club, Rafalski was also impacted by the lack of secondary scoring on the roster and saw his points total dip to 42, his lowest total since 2003-04 with the Devils. More often than not, he's paired up with Nicklas Lidstrom, which tends to be a mutually beneficial arrangement for both players' all-around production. Like Lidstrom, Rafalski was more productive at the offensive end down the stretch in March and April (4 G, 9 A in 21 games) after Johan Franzen was back in the lineup. Don't be surprised if he makes another run into the 50-point range thanks to improved power-play numbers. Rafalski averaged just less than 30 points with the man advantage during his first two seasons in Hockeytown.
Rafalski cracked the 50-point plateau for the third straight season, his second in Detroit, playing alongside of future Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom. Continuity should yield similar results this time around, as Rafalski is a good bet for double-digit goals and a healthy supply of power-play points playing on the first-unit with Lidstrom and company. Rafalski turns 36 in September, but he's showing no signs of slowing down with three years remaining on the five-year pact he signed with Detroit back in July of 2007.
Rafalski matched his career-best offensive output with another 55-point campaign during his first run in Detroit. Those points were actually more valuable for fantasy owners, as he hit the double-digit goals mark (13) for the first time in his career including 10 tallies with the man advantage. Rafalski also had a 23-point increase in plus-minus, finishing at plus-27 last season. Nothing has changed as far as blue-line personnel goes in Detroit, so Rafalski figures to push the 60-point mark this season if he's able to stay healthy for an entire 82-game stretch.
He'll be able to free-lance more in Motown, and the first power-play unit will afford him a lot of easy assists. Mathieu Schneider saw the best years of his career in this setup, and Rafalski probably will, too.
A steady point-producing defenseman, Rafalski won't score many goals and doesn't shoot much, but he did notch another impressive season last year, grabbing 49 points and finishing second on the team in assists with 43. A fixture on the top-power play unit, he's certainly one of the better blue line options after the goal-scoring defensemen are gone. He's getting a little older, turning 33 in September, and did average close to 25 minutes per game in 2005-06, but he's solid. A good note concerning Rafalski is that 27 of his 49 points came on the power play.
Entering his sixth NHL season, Rafalski will be 32 in late September and has quietly been a steady point-producer on the blueline throughout his career. Small, fast and an excellent passer and point man, Rafalski should post close to 50 points with around 10 goals this season. His career high is 52 from the 2000-01 season but in each of the last three seasons, he has posted 47, 40 and 36 points in that span. Rafalski has always played with the first power play unit and with the departure of Niedermayer, he will have even more chances of posting points. A 50 point season is not out of the question should the Devils have a strong power play. He is a career plus-96 player and 13 of his career 30 goals have come on the man-advantage, as have many of his helpers. He’s not going to post Gonchar numbers, but he’ll be a very solid addition to your blueline.