Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Expect Rafalski to Stay

Tom Gulitti has an article in today's Bergen Record stating that Brian Rafalski would like to stay with the team. Here's a quote that really just sums it all up nicely:
Although that possibility looms, Rafalski's agent, Bill Zito, reiterated Monday that his client wants to remain a Devil and has instructed him to make sure that happens. Brian wants to stay, so we're going to do whatever we can to make it work," Zito said. Zito said he had a productive sit-down with Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello while at the NHL Entry Draft in Columbus, Ohio, over the weekend.

While it's not a guarantee, generally players don't leave after their agents publicly state that their client wants to stay. Therefore, I think it's safe to expect Rafalski to remain in Devils red for the next season. Of course, nothing is official - I'm just saying it's probably highly unlikely for Rafalski to sign with some other team short of a wonder deal.

It's more beneficial that Rafalski remains with the Devils. He was the team's top defenseman in terms of goals (8), assists (47), plus/minus (+4), and most importantly average time on the ice (25:29). He's a two-way defenseman who's solid on the break outs, playing from the point, and playing sound positional hockey. Until Paul Martin or someone else steps up, he's the de facto #1 defenseman for New Jersey - a team who has been solid on defense. If Rafalski agrees to stay, that means the focus can be placed on the #1 center position (an absolutely vital hole that must be properly filled if/when Gomez signs with another team).

With free agency looming, there is much to look forward to and you can't do much worse than going to James Mirtle's blog. He notes that the salary cap ceiling is likely going to increase, but it's not clear to how much it will be increased. The higher, the better with respect to the Devils. He also has three absolutely useful lists for the upcoming unrestricted free agents (UFA), listing each player's points, their prior salary cap hit, their expected salary for next season, and where they would play. This post has lists for UFA centers and wingers; this post has a list for UFA blueliners. By that list, Rafalski is among the top UFA blueliners, so it's not as if he's expected to regress in the next few seasons.


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