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.
#28 / Defenseman / Detroit Red Wings
Sep 28, 1973
|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...