Wings sign Rafalski

Update (7:23 PM): Apparently Rafalski did take a bit of a hometown discount to come to Detroit: the AP reports that one team offered him six years, $40 million ($6.7 a year) and he turned it down to become a Wing. Based on this TSN interview transcript, he sounds excited about the opportunity. (links via Snapshots) – Matt

Update (5:14 PM): Looks like my calculations below were a little off. Ansar Khan reports that the Wings have only $8 million to spend now that they’ve signed Rafalski. That $8 million will be spread rather thin between Hasek, Bertuzzi, and Markov, so thin that Holland may only be able to sign two of them and will be unable to go after a UFA like Ryan Smyth.

If I had to guess, I’d say the Wings sign Hasek and Bertuzzi while letting Markov go, leaving a million or two for down the road. While Bertuzzi is a gamble, it doesn’t seem likely that the Wings would be able to draw someone with a similar upside for around $3 million. – Matt

Update (5:00 PM): Eric McErlain has a post up on the deal over the NHL Fanhouse and Lyle Richardson has one at Foxsports.com. I’m still bummed about losing Schneider, but this Rafalski deal is sounding better and better. – Matt

Update (4:37 PM): Here’s the separate TSN piece on the signing.

The interesting thing about this deal is that Rafalski is getting, at an average of $6 million a year, more money than Schneider got from Anaheim. That shows more than anything else that Schneider left for personal reasons rather than because the Wings couldn’t meet his demands.

Rafalski is 33 now (turns 34 in September), which means the Wings will have him at least until he’s 38 (well, 39, really). That’s pretty much his prime years and that’ll give him a chance to improve on his offensive numbers, which aren’t all that far off from Schneider’s. And much like playing with Nick Lidstrom benefited Mathieu Schneider and helped boost his status, so should playing with Nick help Rafalski.

The fact that Rafalski was born in Dearborn, Michigan obviously didn’t motivate him to take a literal hometown discount, but it must be nice for him to be with his hometown team, even if he apparently has “adopted” Wisconsin.

By my loose calculations, the Wings now have a payroll of about $38.5 million with Dominik Hasek, Todd Bertuzzi and Danny Markov still yet to be signed. With the Wings having to find a way to split $12 million between probably at least two of those players, it looks like they won’t be bringing in anyone else.

Overall, I’m intrigued. I don’t know a ton about Rafalski, but his name has come up in years past and the fact that the Wings are investing five years and $30 million into him reflects their confidence in him. Given that their judgment has been right more often than not, it would seem this is a good deal. It doesn’t make up emotionally for the loss of Schneider, but it’s something. – Matt

Well, Holland didn’t waste much time signing another defenseman. Via TSN:

“Brian Rafalski agrees to a five year, $30 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings.”

More to come. (thanks Brian)

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Comments

  1. Slave says:

    damn was hoping they would go for fedorov

  2. Matt Saler says:

    Yeah, but they don't have a choice: the Jackets aren't buying Sergei out, so he's not available anyway.

  3. Slave says:

    that sucks oh well strill alittle money left, i have never been a fan of ryan smith anyways so as long as they stay away from him it is all good 🙂

  4. Dave says:

    I like this signing. Now the Wings need to sign Dom and Bert!

  5. Justin says:

    I'll offer my take on Rafalski and this "trade":

    A very dependable defenseman, and definitely capable of replacing Schneider. Remember that two years ago, New Jersey let Scott Niedermayer go because they felt Rafalski was good enough to be their #1 D-man (well, money was a reason too, but you see my point). I'm not saying Rafalski is as good as Niedermayer, just that if it wasn't for Lidstrom the Wings would be adding a #1 D-man. I think people overrate his offensive ability a bit; his shot isn't that great (Remember his performance in the Hardest Slapshot competition at the last All-Star game? Dead last and didn't even break 90 MPH…) but he can certainly make good passes and QB the PP.

    Pros: Plays a very solid game and relies more on smarts than physical presence (much like Lidstrom). Doesn't miss a lot of games, doesn't make many mistakes, and is a fairly good skater.

    Cons: Is a small guy so he'll get knocked off the puck easier than most D-men and he won't be able to handle some of the bigger forwards as well.

    In comparison to Schneider, I'd say he's a defensive upgrade and an offensive downgrade. Which balances out, really. He doesn't have Schneider's booming slapshot, but he can dish the puck just as well. And I won't have to flinch every time I see Schneider handle the puck in his own end as he gets forechecked.

    The thing I like best about this replacement – and I haven't seen anyone else point this out yet – is that Rafalski is a right hand shot. The Wings SORELY need a right-handed offensive defenseman on the team. Chelios is the only right hander on our blueline, and his days of being an offensive contributor are long gone.

  6. brent says:

    wings should pick up Sergei Fedorov although he left on a bad note you cant deny his talent he's amazing

  1. […] the Wings – Wings Sign Rafalski Ansar Khan reports that the Wings have only $8 million to spend now that they’ve signed […]

  2. […] Yesterday I wrote that the Wings have about $8 million to use to bring back to Dominik Hasek, Todd Bertuzzi  and Danny Markov. That was only partially true at the time. I forgot that Jiri Hudler is a RFA this summer, so if the Wings want him back, they’ll need to fit him in that $8 million limit too. With Todd Bertuzzi’s departure, that job has probably gotten a little easier, though Holland will no doubt look to sign a second-line forward to replace #44 and that, coupled with the team’s apparent desire to sign a “depth defenseman” will make it tough to fit everyone in. Hopefully Jiri doesn’t become the odd man out. […]

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