Earlier today, the news began to leak out that free agent forward Dan Cleary was indeed going to turn his back on the Philadelphia Flyers after accepting an invitation to training camp on a tryout and will instead sign a one-year, $1.75 million deal with the Detroit Red Wings. That deal is for significantly less money than Cleary was offered by the Flyers, and now creates problems for a Red Wings team that was already heading to camp two forwards too heavy. The team will now have to trim three forwards in the next three weeks, and it appears general manager Ken Holland has chosen to bring back an underachieving veteran rather than give some of the team’s brightest young prospects their long-awaited (and promised) spots.
Cleary managed just nine goals and 15 points last season, and with the exception of a 2010-11 campaign that saw him score 26 goals and rack up 46 points his last five seasons in Detroit haven’t been that impressive. Cleary is also 34 years old, but now may get a roster spot over Cory Emmerton (25) or Tomas Tatar (22). Jordin Tootoo and Patrick Eaves remain two of the most likely candidates to be moved before the season opens, and Tatar’s high value in trade might see him headed elsewhere as well. Letting a prospect who just put up four goals and seven points in 18 games with the Wings last season before helping lead the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins to a Calder Cup championship with 16 goals in 24 playoff games doesn’t seem like a good idea, but may be the price the team pays to bring back Cleary, who Holland says is “versatile on the wing” and “good in the locker room.”
Cleary was set to join the Wings at training camp in Traverse City, Mich. Thursday night and it will now be very interesting to see how things unfold in the coming weeks.