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)