7/1/2007 5:30:17 PM
DETROIT (AP) - Defenceman Brian Rafalski agreed to a five-year, US$30-million deal with the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, shortly after defenceman 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 defenceman was born in Dearborn, just outside of Detroit, and turns 34 in September.
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.
Detroit general manager Ken 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.