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Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos reported late Monday afternoon that Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski(notes) is set to announce his retirement from the NHL as early as this week. According to Kypreos, injuries are why Rafalski will move on, and he played in the playoffs without an ACL in his knee.

USA Today's Kevin Allen reports that an announcement will be made on Wednesday.

Rafalski has played 11 seasons in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils and Red Wings after five years in Europe coming out of the University of Wisconsin. He's a three-time Stanley Cup champion and represented Team USA in the last three Winter Olympics.

If Rafalski is planning to hang up the skates, it's news to Red Wings GM Ken Holland, who told the Detroit Free Press that he's yet to be informed of any decision.

Should Rafalski retire, that frees up at least $6 million in cap space for Detroit as it also waits for official confirmation of Nicklas Lidstrom's(notes) future plans. With the salary cap reported set to rise before next season, Holland will have the money to spend to replace Rafalski and potentially Lidstrom on a free-agent defense crop that, at first glance, would really make him wish both of his stud blue liners could stick around for another year.

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