Ex-Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland’s best free-agent signings – No. 2

We’re continuing our countdown of former Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland‘s top free agent signings during his two decades in the Motor City. For those of you who may have missed it, here are the first three on the list:

No. 5 – Luc Robitaille

No. 4 – Marian Hossa

No. 3 – Brett Hull

Number two on our countdown was a homecoming for a Michigan native, that unlike Derian Hatcher and Mike Modano, absolutely did turn out great – Dearborn, Mich. native defenseman Brian Rafalski.

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The Red Wings had a hole on defense after it became clear that Mathieu Schneider would not be returning. Rafalski had just spent seven years with the New Jersey Devils, winning the Stanley Cup twice. He was signed to a five year, $30 million deal and was paired up with Nicklas Lidstrom. The two became the most productive defense pairing in the NHL for the next three seasons.

Of course, Rafalski helped the Red Wings to the 2008 Stanley Cup championship and scored the go-ahead goal in Game 5 in Detroit (that unfortunately, they’d ultimately lose in triple overtime).

After four productive years in Detroit, Rafalski decided to call it a career in 2011 due to knee and back injuries.