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Red Wings confirm that Brian Rafalski’s retiring

Well that’s that, then, via DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose [edit: via RedWingsFeed, the Wings’ website has posted a gallery of 62 images confirming Brian Rafalski’s retirement as of May 25th]:

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and Brian Rafalski will host a press conference on Wednesday to discuss the veteran defenseman’s future with the organization.

The conference will take place at 11 a.m. EDT from inside the Olympia Club at Joe Louis Arena. Fans can watch the conference via a LIVE VIDEO STREAM here on DetroitRedWings.com.

An undrafted player coming out of the University of Wisconsin, Rafalski fine-tuned his skills in Europe before returning to North America where he enjoyed 11 NHL seasons—including four with the Red Wings. He was a two-time All-Star and won the Stanley Cup three times, two of which were with the New Jersey Devils in 2000 and 2003. Rafalski also had an excellent international playing career, winning two Olympic silver medals with Team USA at Salt Lake City (2002) and Vancouver (2010). In Vancouver, Rafalski was named the best defenseman of the tournament, finishing with four goals, four assists and a plus-7 rating in six games.

Rafalski was born and raised in suburban Detroit and attended Southfield Christian High School. He and his wife, Felicity, have three sons.

Update: MLive’s Ansar Khan says that the Wings want to bring Brendan Smith into the fold next season..

The club is counting on top prospect Brendan Smith to make the team next season.

Still, they will need to fill one or two holes on defense through free agency. It is not a particularly deep free-agent class.

Some of the prominent impending unrestricted free agents include Kevin Bieksa, Christian Ehrhoff and Sami Salo of Vancouver; James Wisniewski, Andrei Markov and Roman Hamrlik of Montreal; Ed Jovanovski of Phoenix; Eric Brewer of Tampa Bay; Tomas Kaberle of Boston; Joni Pitkanen of Carolina; Scott Hannan of Washington; Shane O’Brien of Nashville and Bryan McCabe of the Rangers.

Shea Weber of Nashville, Drew Doughty of Los Angeles, Zach Bogosian of Atlanta and Keith Yandle of Phoenix are the most prominent restricted free-agent defensemen. Their clubs can match any offer they receive or get compensatory draft picks. The Red Wings, under general manager Ken Holland, have never signed a restricted free agent to an offer sheet.

The Detroit Free Press’s Helene St. James offers this take on the Wings’ possible Rafalski replacements…

Jonathan Ericsson might benefit from Rafalski leaving, as it gives the Wings more salary-cap space, but the team won’t overpay for Ericsson if another team offers him a fat contract. Ruslan Salei isn’t likely to be back. He’ll probably search for a place to play closer to his family’s home in California.

Brendan Smith, Detroit’s first-round pick in 2007, has a shot at making the team, but the Wings prefer to have their prospects be go-to guys in the minor leagues than fifth or sixth defensemen in Detroit.
...
So who’s available this summer? The biggest name is Windsor native Ed Jovanovski, who has spent the past two-plus seasons with Phoenix. He’s offensively gifted, and he’s 6-feet-3 and 220-plus pounds. He plays in all situations and easily can log 20 minutes a night. He’s going to be 35 in June, but he’s still a high-end defenseman. He has been a force in the league for 15 seasons, carrying the Florida Panthers all the way to the Stanley Cup finals in his rookie year in ’96.

He made $6 million last season. It should be easy enough to sell him on Detroit: It would mean, at least if Lidstrom returns, a chance at adding a Cup to his career, a chance to play next door to his hometown and a reunion with good friend Todd Bertuzzi, with whom he played in Vancouver.

Another fairly big name out there is Kevin Bieksa, currently helping the Canucks close in on the Stanley Cup finals. He’s going to be 30 in June, so he’s in the prime of his career. He’s 6-1 and 198, plays with an edge, and can do some damage with the puck. He had 32 assists among 43 points in 72 games in ’08-09, though he has only hit 22 points the last two seasons. He made $3.5 million this season and would command something of a raise.

Other defensemen eligible to become unrestricted free agents include Joni Pitkanen, Sami Salo, Eric Brewer, Tomas Kaberle, Bryan McCabe and Roman Hamrlik. Nashville’s Shea Weber is eligible to become a restricted free agent, but it isn’t Holland’s modus operandi to try to poach another team’s restricted free agent.

Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner says that it’s Rafalski’s right knee issues that are going to end his playing career, and he offers this take on the Wings’ blueline’s future…

As of today, Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart are under contract through next year; Lidstrom is mulling over retirement; Rafalski seems ready to call it a career; Jonathan Ericsson, an UFA, has been offered a contract—believed to be for $2 million a season—but could get more on the open market; and Ruslan Salei, also an UFA, has an extremely slim chance of returning. Jakub Kindl will be Salei’s replacement; top prospect Brendan Smith has a golden opportunity to make the team; and if Ericsson bolts for greener pastures, Detroit could wait until mid-August to find a stop-gap replacement from a pool of unsigned UFA.
...
Detroit ideally would want to add a right-handed shooting defenseman to fill Rafalski’s void. The most attractive player is Vancouver’s Bieksa. He’s a rugged player (6-foot-1, 198 pounds) who has cannon of a shot from the point, plays both ends of the ice and drops the gloves when necessary.
...
Bieksa’s teammate Sami Salo could be an option. Like Bieksa, Salo is a right-handed shot and can fire the puck from the point, but his age (36) and inability to stay healthy could temper Detroit’s interest.
...
Montreal’s Wisniewski is the only other right-handed shooting defenseman from the above list of UFA and is the player Detroit should target. He’s burly (5-foot-11, 205 pounds), plays with aggression, defends the crease area, possesses offensive skills, skates well and has an all-around game that would flourish in the Wing’s system.
...
Red Wings GM Ken Holland told me last week that he was open to a trade if the right deal comes along.  Atlanta’s Zach Bogosian seems like a player who would be a natural fit to replace Rafalski. Bogosian is big (6-foot-3, 205 pounds), young (turns 21 in July), has 199 NHL games under his belt, is a right-handed shot, plays a two-way game and has unlimited potential. Although Holland has never talked to the Thrashers about Bogosian, there is a sense Detroit is intrigued by the possibility of adding him to the roster. The price that it might cost the Wings (Val Filppula, a first-round pick, and maybe Kindl) could sway Lidstrom to retire.

Look at it from Lidstrom’s perspective: Will the Wings have a better chance of winning with Bogosian next season or with Filppula and Kindl?  Bogosian could be a star in the NHL for many seasons to come but probably not next season.

And the Detroit Nws’s Ted Kulfan goes the spartan route:

Rafalski’s decision comes as the Wings are still waiting on defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, 41, to make up his mind about retirement. Lidstrom, a Norris Trophy (best defenseman) finalist, is expected to make his decision in the next few weeks. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, 28, also is an unrestricted free agent.

So who will the Wings target in free agency beginning July 1?

Vancouver defensemen Kevin Bieksa, Sami Salo and Christian Ehrhoff are possibilities, as are Montreal defensemen Roman Hamrlik, Andrei Markov and James Wisniewski. Phoenix defenseman Ed Jovanovski, a Windsor native, might relish the opportunity to finish his career close to home.

 

Update #2: USA Today’s Kevin Allen penned a superb tribute to Rafalski and weighed in on the Wings’ options as follows:

Although Rafalski’s retirement frees up $6 million in cap space, he will not be easy to replace. Prize puck-moving defensive prospect Brendan Smith is trying to make the Red Wings next season. He would be similar in style to Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jack Johnson, at least in terms of his desire to make things happen defensively. But Smith is 21, and it remains to be seen if he is ready.
...
The free-agent field includes some pure puck movers, such as Christian Ehrhoff (Vancouver Canucks), Joni Pitkanen (Carolina Hurricanes) or even Andrei Markov (Montreal Canadiens), whose last two seasons have been undermined by injuries. Michigan native James Wisniewski (Montreal), whose offensive ability has long been underrated, is available, as are veterans Roman Hamrlik (Montreal), Ed Jovanovski (Phoenix Coyotes) and Tomas Kaberle (Boston Bruins).

If the Red Wings want to go in a different direction, one intriguing possibility would be Kevin Bieksa, the tough, two-way Canucks defenseman whose stock has risen during the playoffs.

Considering some of these players will re-sign with their teams, it’s way too early to handicap which direction the Red Wings will go. Also, the Red Wings still are waiting to hear whether Nicklas Lidstrom, 41, will come back for another season, although it would be surprising if he doesn’t. He is a Norris Trophy finalist and has shown no signs of being weary of the game or its trappings.

The Rafalski decision probably makes it more crucial for the Red Wings to re-sign defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who could test free agency.  The Red Wings could look at trade options, particularly if the Atlanta Thrashers decide to move young defenseman Zach Bogosian.

Right now, we can guess the Red Wings don’t yet have a firm plan, like they did in 2007 when they decided to give Rafalski $6 million a season because he was a perfect fit for their team. General manager Ken Holland undoubtedly would say he got his money’s worth.

Update #3: USA Today posted a Rafalski gallery.

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Comments

Avatar

Bad news for the Wings but at least they will have some cap space next year.

Posted by Devils In The Details on 05/24/11 at 03:36 PM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

Thanks for your service Raffi.  you were instrumental to the team, and made significant contributions to the 07-08 Cup.  God speed.

Now Holland, subscribe to JJ’s plan, please -  J.J. from Kansas on 05/24/11 at 11:35 AM ET

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 05/24/11 at 03:42 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

I actually like JJ’s plan of getting Suter next year.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 05/24/11 at 03:54 PM ET

awould's avatar

Please no Jovo. He is terrible.

Posted by awould on 05/24/11 at 03:54 PM ET

awould's avatar

In order of what I’d like to see happen:
1. Pay for Yandle now for a long-term gain
2. Wisniewski now w/ some money left over
3. Wait for Suter w/ some money left over

Posted by awould on 05/24/11 at 03:57 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Full disclosure: hetero blog-partner Graham helped immensely with that plan.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/24/11 at 03:57 PM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

Spector:  SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weber and Predators GM David Poile have publicly stated their optimism a deal will get done, and given the Predators post-season improvement they could be poised for more in the near future. They’ll need Weber in the fold to achieve this, and I believe he’ll be signed to a long-term extension, probably between $6.5-$7 million per season.

Alas, tis the summer of anxiety.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 05/24/11 at 04:10 PM ET

perfection's avatar

offer sheets for RFA’s are a waste of time for the Wings. it’s actually horrible business unless you are a club like Edmonton that is not only a bottom feeder but terribly unattractive to UFA’s.

fact is, by definition really, in order for an offer sheet to work directly (as opposed to indirectly like the Sharks offer for Hjalmarsson which I think indirectly led to their acquisition of Niemi), you must OVERPAY. otherwise it simply gets matched and that’s that. So if Shea Webber is worth $6.5-7mil, which seems about right for a perennial Norris contender, the ONLY way you snag him with an offer sheet is to pay him $9mil or something that the Preds would be forced to walk away from. The Red Wings do NOT overpay. In fact, I’d say the Wings secret to success is to UNDERpay. That is, sell players on the team, the winning, the history, the quality of life, etc. $7mil players take $6mil to be Wings NOT 8 or 9mil.

so these RFA’s (assuming we can’t make some blockbuster trade for one of their rights) are really out of the question. While Smith is going to make the team and, fingers crossed, practice day in and day out with Lidstrom, he isn’t going to be much help in his first pro year. Kindl will be on the ice every night next year and I’m actually hoping Big Rig reconsiders and takes a fair deal. If he wants to go all Lebda on us then fine, he can rot away in Edmonton or Toronto or Winnipeg or on the Islanders.

If Lidstrom returns, I think we just need a stopgap and then we wait till next year to pursue a big dog. I think it’s almost a given that this will be Lidstrom’s last year if he does in fact return (does anyone else wonder if the Rafalski decision will affect Lidstrom’s decision in some way?). While Rafi will be missed, he was our worst contract next year in terms of value. He’s just not a $6mil player anymore. It’s probably better this way and really gives us more flexibility than we’ve had in years.

Can’t wait to see what we do (while I think it’s a long shot, after watching this year’s playoffs, I’d love to have Bieksa. He’s a beast. But I feel like he’ll be resigned but the Canucks)

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 05/24/11 at 04:34 PM ET

ITDeuce's avatar

Repost from the last thread:


I’m thrilled that Rafi is leaving.  He turned into a turnover machine this year, and there is no reason to believe that next year would have been better.  No disrespect to Rafi, he obviously agreed that it was time to go, but his time was done.  Fair winds Rafi, you were a big part of the last cup, and I’ll forget about about your defensive gaffs of this past season by next year, because the good things you did here way outweighed those by a lot.

Ericsson on the other hand.  How does anyone believe that he is due much of a raise?  I would absolutely love to see the Wings just walk away from him, but no one believes that is going to happen.  Who cares that he is 6’5”?  He doesn’t play like he is that big at all, minus the inability to recover quickly.  Lilja will be a UFA next year.  I wouldn’t mind seeing him come back in exchange for Big Rig.  Actually he’d be a good linemate for Big Rig, if he (when he) comes back.  Maybe I’m just bitter.  I guess I shouldn’t expect that much from him on what he is making.  But damnit, Kindl is way better.

Posted by ITDeuce from The Land of Ice and Snow on 05/24/11 at 03:13 PM ET

Posted by ITDeuce from The Sunny High Desert on 05/24/11 at 05:16 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

So let me get this straight, if Holland were to put in a bid on Weber, draft picks go along with said bid, regardless of whether Holland ends up signing Weber or not?

Posted by ITDeuce from The Land of Ice and Snow on 05/24/11 at 03:16 PM ET

If Errorson signs for $2 million a year (from the sounds of things he’ll get offered more) I’ll be pissed. I can’t possibly see how he’s worth that much.

Posted by mrfluffy from Long Beach on 05/24/11 at 05:35 PM ET

Chris in A^2's avatar

offer sheets for RFA’s are a waste of time for the Wings. it’s actually horrible business unless you are a club like Edmonton that is not only a bottom feeder but terribly unattractive to UFA’s.
- perfection

The issue I’ve got is if they don’t address the blueline, they’re basically conceding the season to rebuilding.  That’s another year with the best playoff forward trio in the NHL wasted, one of the last seasons with TPH wasted, one of two season’s we’ve got Howard cheap wasted.  If getting one of the best defensemen in the NHL prevents us from picking up a Filppula/Hudler/Cleary caliber depth player for the duration of the contract, I’m OK with that because it maximizes our chance at getting a cup while we’ve got a favorable roster for winning one and because the wing’s future depends far more on the development of its young (and cheap) players than it does on signing another quality depth free agent.

Posted by Chris in A^2 from Nyquist Puck Control on 05/24/11 at 05:37 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

The Red Wings do NOT overpay.[/i

Posted by perfection from Chicago on 05/24/11 at 02:34 PM ET

Just one more reason why Weber was never a possibility.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 05/24/11 at 05:41 PM ET

Avatar

I’d take Wisniewski in a sec. Right-hand shot on the point, 27 years old, solid defensively, and from Canton, MI. Give him $4.5M/year and remember that Kronwall is coming up for UFA in 2012 so he’ll be getting an increase to around the same or more.

No way to Jovo and we won’t get either Weber or Shea pried away from Nashville.

Posted by AZWinger on 05/24/11 at 06:01 PM ET

perfection's avatar

ChrisinA^2,

offer sheets are counter to the Wings’ entire philosophy. you’d have to overpay Webber by such a large degree and over such a long period of time, you’d be feeling the repercussions for a decade. and i just don’t see how simply losing Rafalski means we are suddenly “rebuilding” (if Lidstrom retires too, that’s another story). as previously posted, Rafi wasn’t all that effective last year. it still obviously leaves us with a clear top 4 defensive hole and an even bigger hole on the PP and I agree it has to be addressed on some level, but not by throwing the entire team philosophy under the bus. This is Ken Holland not Garth Snow we’re talking about. Logic will prevail. If they can get a solid $3-$4mil, Brad Stuart level player (slightly more offensive perhaps? Wisniewski definitely could fit the bill) to fill Rafi’s spot, plus resign Ericsson and bring up Smith, I wouldn’t call that a ‘rebuild’. It’s more of a stop-gap. the rebuild comes when Lids hangs em up and hopefully then there are some Norris contenders available.

I’m all for a trade - meaning if we can somehow trade players, prospects, and draft picks for Bogosian or someone who we can then sign longterm at a fair deal, I’d pull the trigger. But offer sheets are undoubtedly and unquestionably NOT the way to address anything.

and re: Ericsson - getting Lilja(!?) instead is absolutely insane. Why wouldn’t you just resign Salei then? He’s waaaay better than Lilja (who almost couldn’t get ANY team to sign him last year if you remember).

Also, everyone seems to talk about Ericsson’s size as if that’s his main attribute. Yeah, he doesn’t play a big man’s physical game, but he’s got the big’s man’s reach and he’s got the big man’s slap shot. He’s also got some delicate hands and is a great passer. I think he took a step forward this year (only his second year in the NHL remember) and hopefully will continue to improve. I thought his game was pretty consistent by the time we got to the playoffs this year. We obviously shouldn’t overpay him, but if he will sign what the club feels is a fair contract, I think it’d be a good move. I really think we have yet to see the best out of Big Rig and it would be a huge mistake to give up on him at this point unless he’s being unreasonable. I really think that he’s got some serious potential still… and it has absolutely nothing to do with hitting people.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 05/24/11 at 06:08 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

EVeryone else forget how bad Weber was when Suter was out injured?  Weber is good when he’s got a cerebral babysitter to cover his mistakes.  Suter is definitely the one to have out of the pair.

The Wiz would be nice and he’s a michigan boy, always like bringing talent home.  I think out of every defenseman up for UFA as of now.. Bieksa makes the most sense.. He’ll still be cheaper than Rafi and he’d be moving to practically the same system.  He’s definitely the best fit and the fact he has an edge is a bonus, it’s what the Wings need on a more regular basis. 

I’ll still be dreaming of offer sheets for Zack Parise though.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 05/24/11 at 06:16 PM ET

awould's avatar

I really think we have yet to see the best out of Big Rig

I assume the team expects a huge improvement from him over the next couple of seasons. If not, he’s drastically overpaid already.

Posted by awould on 05/24/11 at 06:20 PM ET

perfection's avatar

I’ll still be dreaming of offer sheets for Zack Parise though.

...at what, $10mil a year for 10 years or something?  that’s about what it would take. FUCH that.


Bieksa is my choice too, but do you really think the Canucks let him go after the way he’s been playing this playoff? He’s been their best d-man by far in this Sharks series.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 05/24/11 at 06:22 PM ET

calquake's avatar

Whomever the Wings sign I don’t want it to be for more than $5M a year so they can pick up a depth forward also.  If Nashville keeps Weber without a hometown discount they aren’t going to be able to keep Joel Ward also unless he takes a discount.  If the Wings can’t get a D-man for $4-5M range then sign a guy like Ward and pick up a stop-gap player like Markov, McCabe or Hamrlik.  Next year is when things get real interesting.

Posted by calquake on 05/24/11 at 06:26 PM ET

Avatar

I think we just need a stopgap

I disagree.  We need someone who can, at the very least, be a #2 guy this year AND in the future.  The last thing you want next year is to have to build an entire first pairing out of the UFA pool.

I’ll still be dreaming of offer sheets for Zack Parise though.

Oh God, kill me if that happens.

Do we really need another big contract forward at the expense of our defense?  Won’t it be great when we can score 5 goals a game, every game, but give up 7?

Let’s remember that the Wings were 2nd in goals-for this year and 23rd in goals-against.  Offense is not the problem.

Defense first please.  And defense second.  Then and only then should we address adding to our offense.

Posted by Garth on 05/24/11 at 07:03 PM ET

awould's avatar

Here’s what I hope happens, and this is assuming Lidstrom stays and we can get Yandle….

Lose the following:
Modano
Salei
Hudler
Rafalski
Salei

Add/Keep the following:
Kindl
Brendan Smith
Tatar or Draper
Keith Yandle ($5-5.5 tops)
Brooks Laich ($3.5)
Miller
Eaves

Posted by awould on 05/24/11 at 07:10 PM ET

Avatar

Whatever happens, this is going to be the first year in a while that I’m going to actually give a damn what happens on July 1st, rather than having to wait till August to hear or a Wings signing…

Posted by Garth on 05/24/11 at 07:16 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

George, since you mentioned Raflaski is very smart and probably will follow with a coachinga career, any chance he may become the new assistant coach for the defense?

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 05/24/11 at 07:29 PM ET

Chris in A^2's avatar

offer sheets are counter to the Wings’ entire philosophy. you’d have to overpay Webber by such a large degree and over such a long period of time, you’d be feeling the repercussions for a decade.
- perfection

It does go against the wing’s philosophy, but I think the current situation calls for it.  This isn’t 5 years ago where Lidstrom was part of the wings long term plans and we had the Euro Twins entering the primes of their careers.  Lidstrom won’t be here much longer and optimistically Dats and Z have 4 years left before age starts to catch up to them. 

I look at it as an expected value function.  Adding a top flight RFA defenseman means adding a Norris caliber defenseman to go with a season or two of Lidstrom and the best remaining years of Datsyuk and Zetterberg.  Is that a better shot at a championship than 4 first round picks and a 2nd line/2nd pairing skater?  I don’t know, but it’s a much safer bet than hoping that you get a super star out of the late first round and hoping that Smith, Tatar, Nyquist et all turn out as good as Lidstrom and the Eurotwins.  If generation next is really going to be the next great thing they should be playing in the near future and make up for the lost 2nd tier skater.  If they aren’t the next great thing, then the future the wings traded away wasn’t all that great to begin with.

and i just don’t see how simply losing Rafalski means we are suddenly “rebuilding”
—perfection

Obviously we’re still going to make the playoffs, I’m just expecting a down season, like 2009-2010 unless they’re big changes made.  The wings weren’t that good, and I agree that Raflaski was a huge part of the problem (especially with regard to the transition game).  He still put up a ton of points and now the wings need a right handed PP point shot to go along with the #2 defenseman and PK shot bloker they already needed.  I guess I just don’t don’t like any of the rookies or UFAs out there enough to think they’ll fix the wings problems in the short term, and that goes back to my point about maximizing their cup potential while we still have TPH and the Euro twins are playing their best hockey.  You’re right, going after an RFA is definitely unwinglike, but I think they’re in a unique spot with age and upcomming players that it’s their the best option.

Posted by Chris in A^2 from Nyquist Puck Control on 05/24/11 at 07:29 PM ET

perfection's avatar

I totally get your points, but I feel like your overlooking the most important thing. It’s not the compensation that’s the issue. I totally would sacrifice all of those draft picks to get one of the top RFA d-men. The problem is what it would actually take to get them in terms of salary and contract length so that a team like Nashville or LA just wouldn’t match the offer (these ARE their franchise players we’re talking about here afterall). Because there definitely IS a price that teams would let their franchise players walk. But that’s because it’s an absurd price to pay and would handcuff the team for many years. While maybe it buys us a cup next year (BIG maybe since the playoffs seem to be quite the crapshoot these days), we then are completely screwed in terms of depth for a long long time to come. Depth is really what wins cups, NOT one or two or three or even four superstars.

An offer sheet would just reek of desperation and I really don’t feel like we’re that desperate. Yes our GA was pretty abysmal last year, but we had no push from a backup goalie, a defensive asst coach who apparently wasn’t cutting it, plus so many damn turnovers from the back end. Defense can be addressed, but it really doesn’t take a Norris candidate to significantly help our GA #‘s. It can be as simple as refreshing the system a bit (how about trying to get Babs’ buddy Ken Hitchcock as D coach? that alone could do it). We will obviously need another top d-man to replace Lidstrom at some point in the next two years so by no means am I against exploring options (like trading for the rights of an RFA or some other top d-man), but if that doesn’t work, I actually think we can make some other small tweaks and still totally compete for the cup next year. The thing is, I want to watch us compete for the cup EVERY year, so I really believe it’s not worth sacrificing the future to try and have a marginally better chance next year.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 05/24/11 at 08:18 PM ET

WingsFanInBeanLand's avatar

I don’t think we’ll focus on his shoulder too much — he’s a pretty hard guy to hit.  For me, if I can put him though the boards, I’ll do that regardless if he has a sore shoulder or not.”

-Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks talking about Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks.

Tick Tock?

Posted by WingsFanInBeanLand from Where the GM likes his team. on 05/24/11 at 09:39 PM ET

ITDeuce's avatar

I am by no means a lilja slappy, but I believe that the main reason he didn’t get signed by other teams was because he missed a freaking year with a concussion.  When he came back he stayed at home, blocked a lot of shots, and helped shore up the pk.  Much more than salei ever brought to the table.  Just my opinion though.  I hated the guy for a while, but he really improved right before getting hurt.

And for the record I do realize that I’m overly critical of Errorson, but I’m really dreading hearing “it’s only his 7th year in the league”.  Dude is frustrating.

Posted by ITDeuce from The Sunny High Desert on 05/24/11 at 11:15 PM ET

Chris in A^2's avatar

I totally get your points, but I feel like your overlooking the most important thing. It’s not the compensation that’s the issue. I totally would sacrifice all of those draft picks to get one of the top RFA d-men. The problem is what it would actually take to get them in terms of salary and contract length so that a team like Nashville or LA just wouldn’t match the offer (these ARE their franchise players we’re talking about here afterall). Because there definitely IS a price that teams would let their franchise players walk. But that’s because it’s an absurd price to pay and would handcuff the team for many years. While maybe it buys us a cup next year (BIG maybe since the playoffs seem to be quite the crapshoot these days), we then are completely screwed in terms of depth for a long long time to come. Depth is really what wins cups, NOT one or two or three or even four superstars.
- perfection

I figured the overpayment price would be a 2nd line/2nd pairing skater; which if the cap goes up by the CBA cap inflator would be how much we had to spend after bringing everyone back and having Rafalski and TPH in the lineup.  We’d have more or less the same roster, just swap the RFA for banged up Rafalski.  Obviously that overpayment means a lot more if gary ass tries to bring down the cap, but I’m done with the NHL if there’s another lockout.

Depth is where the young guys come in;  if they’re any good they’ll start to fill those roles some time in the near future for cheap.  If not, then there is no future, so who cares if we’re overpaying a top pairing player by 2-3 million/season -the dynasty would end without succession.  You just can’t build to top forward line or solid top defensive pairing in free agency.  Those guys get locked up early.

Our depth is pretty good at forward, IMO what was killing the team was our transition game, and the fault started on defense with the inability to make good outlet passes or even clear the damn zone.  Getting a true top pairing defensement and letting Stuart play against weaker compeition would be a huge help, and if that guy can fil the right handed point shot on the PP and block shots on the PK he’d fill our two biggest needs on special teams. Otherwise we’re looking at spending 3-4 million on a PP specialist and 1 million on a PK pylon in free agency; or living with those holes in our special teams.  There’s no guarantee that either of those guys will be any better at the transition game in 5 on 5 than our craptastic defense was this year.  Hypothetically Wisniewski and Lilja would fix our special teams, but 5 on 5 our D would still suck just as hard as it did last year.

There’s also the off chance that tick tock completes my kill with fire triumverate by getting rid of Hudler and we’ve to 13 million to play with to fill 2 roster spots after the inflator.  That’d be interesting, although my natural inclination is to give him another season to readjust to the NHL.

Posted by Chris in A^2 from Nyquist Puck Control on 05/24/11 at 11:18 PM ET

Chris in A^2's avatar

I am by no means a lilja slappy, but I believe that the main reason he didn’t get signed by other teams was because he missed a freaking year with a concussion.  When he came back he stayed at home, blocked a lot of shots, and helped shore up the pk.  Much more than salei ever brought to the table.  Just my opinion though.  I hated the guy for a while, but he really improved right before getting hurt.
- ITDeuce

I don’t know that Lilja is the answer (he probably makes our transition game even worse than it already is), but the team needs someone other than Knonwall and Salei to block shots on defense; the wings were close to the bottom of the league in that stat.  The team was killing penalties at almost a 90% clip with Lilja in 2010 and the only changes to the PK was swapping him for Salei and Filppula for Gator.

Posted by Chris in A^2 from Nyquist Puck Control on 05/24/11 at 11:31 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

It’s possible but not probable that Raffy will join the coaching staff.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/24/11 at 11:36 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.