Okay, so I didn’t bother to even read this when it was first published on NHL.com last Tuesday.
Well my mistake, because John Kresier’s Over 35 club has a couple of Red Wings on it, and deservedly so..
Lidstrom is nowhere near ready to call it a career. The Detroit Red Wings’ captain had another superb season in 2008-09, finishing third among all defensemen in scoring (16-43-59) and plus-minus rating (plus-31). He’s still the engine that makes the Wings go, and was good enough last season to be a Second-Team All-Star and finish third in the balloting for the Norris Trophy — an award he’s won six times in the past eight seasons. Lidstrom is one of the hardest-to-hit players in the NHL, and while he has just one year left on his contract, he looks like he could play well into his 40s.
We’re all still hoping that the Perfect Human Returns next year at a discounted Cap hit. The fact that people are whispering about his age catching up with him are largely unfounded, seeing as he finished 3rd in the defensive scoring race to a glorified fifth forward and Montreal’s only real scoring threat. He also finished nine points clear of this year’s Norris Trophy winner.
Rafalski went home in the summer of 2007, signing with the Red Wings after seven seasons (and two Stanley Cups) in New Jersey — and put up the two best offensive seasons of his career while helping the Wings win the Cup in 2008 and get to Game 7 of the Final last season. His 49 assists and 59 points were both career-highs, and he teamed with Lidstrom to make the Red Wings’ power play the best in the NHL. Like Lidstrom, he’s smart, a good skater and hard to hit, meaning that he should have several more productive NHL seasons.
…and all with Detroit. Rafalski, I beleive, exceeded expectations when he was brought to Detroit to fill in for the departing Mathieu Schneider. His $6 mil Cap hit might seem like a lot, but compare it to the likes of Kimmo Timonen and Ed Jovanovksi and we’re actually icing him at a fairly decent price for this on-ice value.
Rafalski also may be the best player in the “guy who actually looks like he should be an accountant” category.