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

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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...