From Out Of Left Field ...
Rumours are flying fast & furious that Brian Rafalski is going to leave $6 mil. on the table and retire. Between 2 wonky knees and a back that spasms at will, it looks like the 37 year old Rafalski is going to hang them up for good. Word is there will be a press conference Wednesday afternoon (may 25th) to make his decision offical. I could provide a bazillion links to just about every hockey writers web post or various tweets but they all say the same thing. The one thing that differs is whom they speculate the Red Wings will go after via free agency.
This certainly clears the way for my Joni Pitkanen prediction to come to fruition but, with $6mil. a certainty to be available, there are now a few other options.
In the over 30 crowd, the 'Holy Trinity' (Holland/Nill/Babcock) could go with Windsor native Ed Jovanovski (yummy!), Bryan McCabe (nice shot but not the best defencively), Roman Hamrlik (showing his age), Sami Salo (injury prone), or Tomas Kaberle (uber inconsistant & sloppy).
The under 30 crowd looks a bit better with Kevin Bieksa (picture D-Mac as a defenceman), James Wisniewski (just wow), Christian Ehrhoff, and Joni Pitkanen (still my first choice) as possibilities.
Many are mentioning restricted free agent Shea Weber as an option but, having never gone after an RFA in the past and having to give up way too much of their future to Nashville on top of paying Weber's salary make it a non-issue. Undoubtedly, Nashville will match any offer so just scratch that as a possibility.
Just a little something to make you go hmmmmmm ... what is Sheldon Souray's situation ???
I'm Leaving On A Jet Plane ...
Still no official word on the Atlanta Thrashers being sold and moving to Winnipeg but, when only 200 fans show up for a weekend rally to save the team, even the people in Atlanta know it's a done deal. It's also a good possibility Winnipeg will play one season in the Eastern Conference while Bettman and his henchmen ponder all reallignment options. Some very creative ideas have been posted already, including the elimination of East/West Conferences and going with Atlantic/South East/Central/West Divisions. As soon as I figure out where Phoenix will end up after the 2011-12 season I'll post my ideas and see if they float.