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Homecoming: Rafalski signs deal with Wings

Monday, 07.2.2007 / 10:26 AM ET / News
Associated Press
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Homecoming: Rafalski signs deal with Wings

DETROIT -- Defenseman Brian Rafalski agreed to a five-year, $30 million deal with the Red Wings on Sunday, shortly after defenseman Mathieu Schneider chose to leave the team in free agency.

Rafalski scored eight goals and had 55 points last season for the New Jersey Devils. He has 44 career goals and 311 points in seven NHL seasons, all in New Jersey.

The 5-foot-10, 195-pound defenseman and three-time All-Star, was born in Dearborn, Mich., a western suburb of Detroit, and turns 34 in September.

"It was a difficult decision leaving New Jersey, the only team I've known, but I'm coming home to play for the team I grew up watching,'' Rafalski said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "To have this opportunity, is a dream.''

Rafalski's agent, William Zito, said five teams tried to sign the defenseman -- including one offering a six-year, $40 million contract -- but he wanted to play for his hometown team.

"It's a pretty neat thing for him,'' said Zito, adding it was bittersweet for Rafalski to leave New Jersey.

Red Wings GM Ken Holland summed up the obvious: "With his mobility and puck-handling skills, he is a perfect fit for our style of play.''

Schneider signed a two-year deal worth $11.25 million with the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks. The 18-year veteran will make $5.5 million this season and $5.75 million the following year. He had 11 goals and 52 points last season for the Red Wings.

Holland expected to lose Schneider in free agency.

"We would love to have him back, but I expect him to hit the market and I don't blame him," Holland said Saturday night. "He's 38 years old, so he doesn't have a lot of chances to really take advantage of free agency."

Holland was cautiously optimistic on the eve of NHL free agency that he and Dominik Hasek would agree to contract terms to bring the star goaltender back. The six-time Vezina Trophy winner and two-time MVP informed the Red Wings several weeks ago that he wanted to play in Detroit again.

The Red Wings also want to re-sign forward Todd Bertuzzi, if he is willing to return with a shorter-term contract.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
R. Sheahan 81 14 11 -8 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80