from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
As he set about to patch the Detroit Red Wings’ lineup, new general manager Steve Yzerman had a self-created mandate: no long-term contracts.
His venture into the unrestricted free agent market yielded forward Valtteri Filppula, defenseman Patrik Nemeth and goaltender Calvin Pickard. All were signed to two-year deals. Yzerman’s reasoning makes sense: describing himself as “somewhat new to the organization,” he sought to make the Wings more competitive without saddling the roster with deals that might complicate re-signing Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Bertuzzi (all of whom are entering a contract year) or limit opportunities for prospects.
The signings reflect a team in rebuilding mode. Free agency was more fun back when the Wings were a contender. Here is a lock back at their 10 best and worst unrestricted free agency signings from 1998-2018.
1. D Brian Rafalski
Signed: 2007 (5 years, $30 million)
A master at tape-to-tape passes, Rafalski produced 204 points in 292 regular-season games and 40 points in 63 playoff games before retiring early because of injuries.