Even at the age of 35, Brian Rafalski is still getting better, statistically speaking anyway, as his points-per-game and points-per-minute have improved in each of the past five seasons. Playing alongside Nicklas Lidstrom the past two seasons certainly hasn't hurt, as the two have teamed up to form one of the most prolific defensive pairings in the NHL.
During the 2008-09 season, the two players combined for 118 points, making them the highest-scoring defensive pairing in the league.
Draft Year: Not Drafted
Prior to signing with the New Jersey Devils in May 1999, Rafalski spent four years in Sweden and Finland. His best season came in 1998-99 when he scored 19 goals to go with 34 assists for HIFK Helsinki, a performance that earned him the Kultainen Kypara, which is Finland's answer to the Lester B. Pearson Award. A native of Dearborn, Michigan, Rafalski signed a five-year, $30 million contract with the Wings prior to the 2007-08 season after spending the first seven years of his career with the New Jersey Devils.
Why He's On My List
An excellent puck-moving defenseman, Rafalski has been a key contributor on three Stanley Cup winning teams, and based on his bottom line numbers, is a model of consistency in terms of production. Over the past four seasons his assist totals have been 43, 47, 42, 49 while his point totals have been 49, 55, 55, 59. I have him ahead of Dan Boyle (who is a superior player offensively) because, to me, Rafalski is slightly better in his own end and a more complete player.
Obligatory YouTube Video
Brian Rafalski, in his pre-NHL days, playing in Europe.