Last week, Detroit Hockey Now looked at the five worst free agent signings in Detroit Red Wings history. This week, we’re all about accentuating the positive. Let’s look at the top five unrestricted free agent signings.
Brian Rafalski, D (2007)
From Dearborn, Michigan, Rafalski grew up a Red Wings fan, so it was with delight that he joined the team in 2007-08, agreeing to terms on a five-year, $30 million contract. The Wings were a Stanley Cup final four team in 2006-07 and the addition of Rafalski put them over the top in 2007-08.
Scoring a career-high 13 goals and in a pairing with Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom, they formed the most productive defensive pairing in the NHL.
Brett Hull, RW (2001)
The Golden Brett was a late-sumer signing in 2001 as the Wings assembled their collection of all-stars who’d win the Stanley Cup in the spring of 2002. Hull, a 39-goal scorer for the Dallas Stars in 2000-01, ended up signing a two-year, $9 million pact with Detroit.
— Scooby-Doo History (@scoobyhistory) August 9, 2021
Playing on a line with rookie Pavel Datsyuk and young forward Boyd Devereaux, Hull dubbed the trio two kids and a goat. Hull led the Wings with 10 goals during the 2002 NHL playoffs as they won the Stanley Cup.
Steve Duchesne, D (1999)
Journeyman defenseman Duchesne took a significant haircut to join the Wings in 1999. He signed a one-year deal for $1 million. That was much million lower than than the career-high $3.75 millon he was earning the previous season with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Duchesne signed two subsequent one-year deals with the Wings. Each was for $1.6 million. In a tandem with Chris Chelios, they ended up forming a stellar second pairing behind Lidstrom and Rafalski on Detroit’s 2001-02 Cup-winning squad.
Luc Robitaille, LW (2001)
Another future Hall of Fame who was brought on board for the 2001-02 Stanley Cup run. Accepting a two-year $9 million deal, Robitaille took less money from Detroit than other teams were offering.
His did so to pursue a Stanley Cup. Robitaille finished the 2001-02 season with 30 goals as Detroit won the Stanley Cup.
Chris Osgood, G (2005)
He’d won two Stanley Cups as a Wing in 1996-97 and 1997-98 but Osgood’s Detroit days would end when six-time Vezina Trophy winner Dominik Hasek was acquired in 2001. Four years later, when the Wings were in need of a goalie, they brought back Osgood for the bargain-basement price of $800,000.
Osgood and Hasek ended up forming a netminding tandem from 2006-08. When Hasek was struggling during the first round of the 2008 playoffs, Osgood took over, backstopping the Wings to their most recent Stanley Cup championship.