Detroit's Brian Rafalski's reported retirement could reshape the Central Division

While all the speculation in Detroit has been on whether surefire Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom will return for another season, some stunning news just hit the Twitterverse:

In a surprise if not shocking move sources tell Sportsnet the #RedWings will announce retirement of D Brian Rafalski as early as this week. - Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos on Twitter. Reportedly this is due to knee injuries.    


Brian Rafalski

#28 / Defenseman / Detroit Red Wings

5-10

194

Sep 28, 1973



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2010 - Brian Rafalski 63 4 44 48 11 22 0 0 0 106 3.8

The big question is, does this open the door for the Predators to contend for the Central Division title next season? The Preds fell 5 points shy this year, and may well be on the ascent given the overall youth of their roster. While Detroit's core talent base is older and perhaps gradually declining, I don't think anybody saw this move coming.

Of course, if Rafalski indeed retires, that removes $6 million from Detroit's salary cap commitments for next season, and leaves them with a gaping talent void on the right side of their defense. Counting down to "Detroit to take a run at landing Shea Weber" rumors in 3... 2... 1...

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