I believe that we’ve hit all of the Free Agents, so let’s turn to the guy who is still the second highest paid defensemen on Detroit…even after Lidstrom’s discount.
I actually heard some grumbles about Brian Raflaski this season…I thought everyone was like me. I love the guy. He’s a Michigan native who came in after Matthieu Schneider ditched us for Anaheim and had 104 points in his first two seasons as a Red Wing. Before you go off on the “he’s not worth $6 million” thing…let’s take a look at all the other NHL D-men who made as much or more than Raff this year according to USA today…
So when you look at his stats this year…
…you’ll see that even though his numbers dropped off this year (just like everyone else on Detroit), the number of defensemen that had more production AND got paid more: 4 out of 10 (Chara, Lidstrom, Visnovsky, and Pronger). So I think it’s fair to say that we’re getting our money’s worth out of Rafalski.
What I expected: 10 G 50 A 60 Pts
What we got: 8 G 34 A 42 Pts
Now…having made that big financial case for Raffi, I can’t argue that he didn’t live up to my pre-season expectations. But then again, who did on this team? I think the big problem with Rafalski is that he played his best hockey this year while not wearing the Winged Wheel. He dominated in Vancouver and we all expected to see that version of him down the stretch for Detroit. With that said – the Olympics is a different game and it’s probably not fair to judge Raffi based on what he did at an international tournament. He did add 11 points in 12 play-off games this year…which is pretty damn good.
Overall Grade: B-
I say that he was only slight below my expectations, taking all the craziness of this season into consideration. Let’s see what Rafalski can do with a healthy team all season next year. He’s worth $6 million, people…so please don’t go there.