Callahan, Nestrasil each get one-year, two-way deals to return to Wings’ organization

DETROIT >> Mitch Callahan and Andrej Nestrasil are coming off their best seasons as pros.

On Thursday, the two forwards got rewarded with one-year, two-way contracts to remain in the Detroit Red Wings system.

Callahan, 22, totaled 26 goals and 18 assists in 70 games with Grand Rapids last season. He was also a plus-23.

In 70 games, Nestrasil had 16 goals and 20 assists with the Griffins last season.

Callahan, who was fourth on the team in scoring, will earn $555,000 if he’s with the Wings and $90,000 in the AHL.

Nestrasil, 23, will earn slightly less – $550,000 in the NHL and $82,500. He was fifth on the Griffins in scoring.

Both players are heading into their fourth year in the organization and will be restricted free agents after their deals expire.

If they don’t make the Wings out of training camp they’ll have to clear waivers to be assigned to Grand Rapids.

Callahan made his NHL debut last season, playing one game and not registering a point in just over nine minutes of ice time.

“He creates havoc around the other team’s goalie,” Riley Sheahan said last season of Callahan. “Other teams don’t like playing against him. He’s a great guy to have on the team and he brings a lot of character and I think he’s going to be good for us.”

Callahan has 247 penalty minutes in 189 career games with the Griffins.

His 26 goals last season were a career high. His previous high was 11 in 71 games.

“It’s kind of funny because you look at all the goals, none of them are real pretty,” Callahan said when he was called up. “(I’m) just screening in front of the net, working hard in front of the net. I think I got four or five where the D shot it and it hit me. Just from working hard in front of the net and stirring it up and working hard.”

The Wings still have restricted free agents Danny DeKeyser and Tomas Tatar to get deals down with prior to training camp.

A healthy Dan Cleary ready for a chance to redeem himself

DETROIT >> Dan Cleary is looking at his 10th season with the Detroit Red Wings as a chance to do one thing … redeem himself.

Because the 2013-14 season was one that Cleary would soon like to forget, totaling just four goals and four assists. He also finished with a career-worse minus-11 rating in 52 games.

“I’m training hard, working hard to have a bounce back season,” said Cleary, who’ll get $1.5 million in base salary next season and could earn an extra $1 million in bonuses. “I’m very happy to be back.”

Clear will be one of 14 forwards the Wings will carry heading into the season, but he’ll have to beat out the youngsters to earn his playing time.

“Every camp is a competition, except for a few spots that are spoken for,” Cleary said. “I’m going to go in with an open mind. I’ll work hard on and off the ice and see where the chips fall. If I go in strong and healthy, things will work out.”

Cleary caused quite a stir last year as he tried to decide on his future.

He spurned a professional tryout from the Philadelphia Flyers and wound up signing a one-year deal to return to the Wings for $1.75 million on the eve of training camp.

In the process, Cleary shot down a report that he was offered a three-year deal worth $2.75 million a season to join the Flyers.

“Dan Cleary is a leader,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “We’re hoping he can bounce back. He’ll be good insurance, but he’ll have to beat people out to be in the lineup.”

Cleary had rejected the Wings’ two- and three-year offers prior to the opening of free agency last year and they moved on and signed Daniel Alfredsson (one year, $5.5 million) and Stephen Weiss (five years, $24.5 million).

“He’s a guy the coaching staff likes and so do his teammates,” Holland said. “He’s a leader in the room, who can play left or right wing and can go on the power play.”

Signing Cleary last season put the Wings three players over the roster limit and just over $2 million over the salary cap which meant Gustav Nyquist began the season in Grand Rapids, which didn’t sit well with Wings fans.

Nyquist was the only forward that, at the time, didn’t have to clear waivers and be exposed for other teams to scoop up before being sent down to the minors.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion and you try not to let any of the negativity or positive comments affect you,” Cleary said. “We live in the day of social media, anyone can say anything. You can’t worry about what people think. You’ve just got to go out and do what you do.”

Nyquist wound up with 48 points (28 goals, 20 assists) in just 57 games.

Cleary’s season was cut short due to a knee injury he suffered before the Olympic break after suffering a bad reaction to an injection that caused inflammation.

It’s the same knee that’s been bothering him the last three years.

“It’s just been a lot of wear and tear,” Cleary said. “It was a rough start to last season. Then I had a reaction to the (lubricant) Synvisc, my knee blew up and got swollen and then my season was over.”

Cleary, 35, began training a week after the season and just resumed skating this week, which is four weeks earlier than normal.

“It feels good,” Cleary said. “It’s very promising. My knee’s a lot stronger and feels a lot better. I knew I needed to get my entire leg stronger to support my knee.”

Cleary’s numbers have dropped off each season since he scored a career-high 26 goals and totaled a career-high 46 points during the 2010-11 season.

However, he was the Wings’ second leading scorer (four goals and six assists in 14 games) in the playoffs two seasons ago when they lost in Game 7 in a Western Conference second round meeting with the eventual Stanley Cup champ Chicago Blackhawks.

Cleary feels he can get back to that level.

“It’s going to take hard work and dedication, but that’s my goal,” Cleary said. “I’m confident I can.”

The Wings still have about $8 million under the $69 million salary cap for the upcoming season. They still need to sign restricted free agents Tomas Tatar and Danny DeKeyser. Another chunk of it could be set aside for Alfredsson to return.

Renney could be leaving Wings for position with Hockey Canada

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings search for an assistant coach may soon be doubling.

According to Wings general manager Ken Holland, Tom Renney is in the final stages of landing a position with Hockey Canada.

Renney spent two years as a coach with Hockey Canada, serving as the head coach of the Canadian National Team that went on to capture a silver medal at the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway.

“Mike (Babcock) has been talking to a number of people,” Holland said during a phone interview.

Renney is up for the vacant position as president and chief executive officer, which was formerly held by Bob Nicholson.

One of the candidates the Wings have interest in is also interviewing with a few others teams before making his decision.

According to a source, one person Detroit has interviewed is Tony Granato.

Granato, who played 13 seasons in the NHL, spent the last five seasons as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins under head coach Dan Bylsma, who was fired after last season.

Granato, who’ll turn 50 at the end of this month, also has head coaching experience, serving two stints behind the bench with Colorado (2002-04 and 2008-09) compiling a 104-78-17-16 record.

“Mike has done a fantastic job finding assistants,” Holland said. “I’ll sign off on his decision. A number of his assistants have turned out to be NHL coaches.”

The latest assistant coach to land a head coaching job in the NHL is Bill Peters, who took over in Carolina.

Todd McLellan was the first to leave, taking over in San Jose in 2008. He was followed by Paul MacLean, who was named the head man in Ottawa in 2011.

Brad McCrimmon also left the same season MacLean departed to coach in the KHL, but tragically lost his life in a plane crash prior to his first game of the season with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.

The Wings stopped another coach from perhaps leaving for a head coaching job in NHL when they gave Jeff Blashill a “significant” salary increase to stay in the organization for three more seasons.

Blashill spent one season in Detroit, where he was in charge of the power play, after leaving Western Michigan University.

Renney was brought in to help fix the team’s woes on the power play, which ranked 22nd prior to him being hired.

Renney’s Edmonton Oilers had the third-best power play after the 2011-12 season.

In his two seasons in Detroit the power play ranked 15th and 18th respectively.

“The expectations are probably the biggest difference right now,” Renney after he signed a three-year deal to become Babcock’s assistant coach. “Coaching in Edmonton you go in with the expectations of winning, but also with the realization of sometimes you’re just not going to. It was a rebuild, trying to redefine a team and playing with a younger lineup. Never was the work habit lost. There is a great group of people there.

“Detroit is the standard bearer in terms of how the game gets played at the highest level, how it gets coached and how it gets managed,” Renney added. “Expectations are high in Detroit as they should be and I know as an organization certainly they don’t want it to be the other way. That sets you up for failure for sure, but what impresses me most about the Detroit Red Wings is seldom do they. If they have a tough season, tough stretch, there are usually extenuating circumstances for that.”

Renney had three consecutive 40 win seasons while the head coach of the New York Rangers.

He knew Babcock through Hockey Canada and coaching with him at the World Championships in 2004.

Cleary gets a one-year deal to return to Wings

DETROIT >> Dan Cleary’s time as a Detroit Red Wing is not over.

The Wings have agreed on a one-year deal that’ll bring the 35-year-old forward back for his 10th season in Detroit.

“Dan Cleary is a guy that when he signed here last year for a one-year deal, we had conversations beyond one year because he had contract offers or three years from a couple of teams,” Wings general manger Ken Holland said a few weeks ago.

Cleary struggled last season. In 52 games he totaled four goals, four assists and had a minus-11 rating.

Cleary tried to return from a knee injury he suffered before the Olympic break, but a bad reaction to an injection that he had no side effects two times earlier made his knee inflamed.

He had a painkiller called Synvic One injected in his knee, which is a natural substance that lubricates and cushions knee joints.

Tomas Holmstrom had a similar reaction to the same injection three years ago that made him miss a decent amount of time.

Cleary’s numbers have dropped off each season since he scored a career-high 26 goals and totaled a career-high 46 points during the 2010-11 season.

He was the Wings’ second leading scorer (four goals and six assists in 14 games) in the playoffs two seasons ago when they lost in Game 7 in a Western Conference second round meeting with the eventual Stanley Cup champ Chicago Blackhawks.

“He’s coming off a real tough season,” Holland said. “I know he’s working really hard to try and get some leg strength to give himself the best opportunity he can for a bounce back year.”

Cleary caused quite a stir last year as tried to decide on his future.

Cleary spurned a professional tryout from the Philadelphia Flyers and wound up signing a one-year deal to return to the Wings for $1.75 million on the eve of training camp.

He also shot down a report that he was offered a three-year deal worth $2.75 million a season to join the Flyers.

Signing Cleary put the Wings three players over the roster limit and just over $2 million over the salary cap and meant Gustav Nyquist would begin the season in Grand Rapids, which didn’t sit well with Wings fans.

Nyquist was the only forward that, at the time, didn’t have to clear waivers and be exposed for other teams to scoop up before being sent down to the minors.

Nyquist wound up with 48 points (28 goals, 20 assists) in just 57 games.

DETROIT >> Dan Cleary’s time as a Detroit Red Wing is not over.

The Wings have agreed on a one-year deal that’ll bring the 35-year-old forward back for his 10th season in Detroit.

“Dan Cleary is a guy that when he signed here last year for a one-year deal, we had conversations beyond one year because he had contract offers or three years from a couple of teams,” Wings general manger Ken Holland said a few weeks ago.

Cleary struggled last season. In 52 games he totaled four goals, four assists and had a minus-11 rating.

Cleary tried to return from a knee injury he suffered before the Olympic break, but a bad reaction to an injection that he had no side effects two times earlier made his knee inflamed.

He had a painkiller called Synvic One injected in his knee, which is a natural substance that lubricates and cushions knee joints.

Tomas Holmstrom had a similar reaction to the same injection three years ago that made him miss a decent amount of time.

Cleary’s numbers have dropped off each season since he scored a career-high 26 goals and totaled a career-high 46 points during the 2010-11 season.

He was the Wings’ second leading scorer (four goals and six assists in 14 games) in the playoffs two seasons ago when they lost in Game 7 in a Western Conference second round meeting with the eventual Stanley Cup champ Chicago Blackhawks.

“He’s coming off a real tough season,” Holland said. “I know he’s working really hard to try and get some leg strength to give himself the best opportunity he can for a bounce back year.”

Cleary caused quite a stir last year as tried to decide on his future.

Cleary spurned a professional tryout from the Philadelphia Flyers and wound up signing a one-year deal to return to the Wings for $1.75 million on the eve of training camp.

He also shot down a report that he was offered a three-year deal worth $2.75 million a season to join the Flyers.

Signing Cleary put the Wings three players over the roster limit and just over $2 million over the salary cap and meant Gustav Nyquist would begin the season in Grand Rapids, which didn’t sit well with Wings fans.

Nyquist was the only forward that, at the time, didn’t have to clear waivers and be exposed for other teams to scoop up before being sent down to the minors.

Nyquist wound up with 48 points (28 goals, 20 assists) in just 57 games.

Cleary had rejected the Wings’ two- and three-year offers prior to the opening of free agency they moved on and signed Daniel Alfredsson (one year, $5.5 million) and Stephen Weiss (five years, $24.5 million).

The Wings’ two-year offer to Cleary was just below what the Flyers reportedly had offered. It was the addition of the third year that brought the number down even more, but all three years averaged around $2 million a season.

“People are probably thinking I’m not the smartest guy, or whatever, but I have to deal with what I feel is right for me, and I did it,” Cleary said after returning. “The whole process was tough. It’s hard for people to relate to the situation. I said it a few days ago, there’s nothing like being a Red Wing and I mean that. I love being here, I won a Stanley Cup here, I’ve got friends for life, not only the players, but guys who work in PR, trainers, coaches, I mean, the list goes on.

“I’m sorry to everybody for the drama that was created,” Cleary added. “It’s just not my style. Social media at times can be frustrating. But that’s the world we live in and I apologize to all of the writers, the Philly writers, but I’m a Red Wing and I’m proud to be a Red Wing.”

DeKeyser doesn’t file for salary arbitration

DETROIT >> The Wings’ only eligible player for salary arbitration, defenseman Danny DeKeyser, as expected chose not to file by the deadline.

DeKeyser and Tomas Tatar are Detroit’s two remaining restricted free agents.

The team will get deals done with both players by the time training camp opens in September.

The Wings signed Riley Sheahan on July 1 to a two-year deal with an average salary cap hit of $950,000.

Here’s the list of 20 players that elected salary arbitration:

Arizona Coyotes

Brandon McMillan

Boston Bruins

Matt Bartkowski

Calgary Flames

Joe Colborne

Dallas Stars

Cameron Gaunce

Antoine Roussel

Florida Panthers

Jimmy Hayes

Los Angeles Kings

Dwight King

Minnesota Wild

Justin Fontaine

Montreal Canadiens

Lars Eller

P.K. Subban

Nashville Predators

Mattias Ekholm

New York Islanders

Kevin Poulin

New York Rangers

Derick Brassard

Chris Kreider

Mats Zuccarello

Ottawa Senators

Derek Grant

Pittsburgh Penguins

Nick Spaling

San Jose Sharks

Jason Demers

Toronto Maple Leafs

Cody Franson

James Reimer

The deadline for Club-Elected Salary Arbitration notification is July 6 at 5 p.m. Hearings will be held in Toronto from July 20 to August 4.

Anthony Mantha has a job with the Detroit Red Wings, if he can take it

DETROIT >> For Anthony Mantha it comes down to one thing: If he wants to make the Detroit Red Wings’ roster this season, he has to beat someone out.

“He’s going to have to beat someone out,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Thursday. “I think everybody has potential, some have more than others. If you don’t live up to that potential it really doesn’t matter.”

And it’s not just one of the 12 forwards Detroit dresses on a nightly basis, but one that’s slotted to be in the top six.

“When we open with Boston (on Oct. 9) and the coach says to me he wants Mantha in the lineup he’s in the lineup,” Holland said. “If he’s in the lineup it’s because basically we think he’s going to be a top six forward. I don’t know we’d put him on the fourth line and play him eight minutes.”

With Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk as locks on one of the top two lines, the skaters he’ll have to beat out to make the jump from juniors to the NHL are the likes of Johan Franzen, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco.

“And does he do something special, bring some ingredients that complement the Zetterbergs and Datsyuks that the coach says to me that we need him to win the first game against Boston and I want him in the lineup,” Holland said. “If that’s not the case, he goes to Grand Rapids and we’ll go through the development process and develop him into that guy.”

Mantha, who’ll turn pro this season, has done all that he could in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League totaling 107 goals and 102 assists over the last two regular seasons, while adding 29 goals and 21 assists in the playoffs.

He also received the Michel Briere Trophy as the QMJHL MVP this past season.

“It appears he can score,” Holland said. “You don’t score as much as he has over the last couple of years. Not many can score as he’s scored in his tier group and he’s produced at the world juniors.”

But playing at that level is much different than playing in the NHL.

“Lots of times in those leagues scores are 5-4 or 6-5, while we play a lot 2-1 and 3-2 games,” Holland said. “So if you don’t score what else do you bring to the table? If you don’t score can you kill a penalty, are you good defensively, can you win physical battles, can you protect the puck down low, can you forecheck and force the defense to make mistakes.

“It’s more than just can you score,” Holland continued. “Unless you can score 80 goals, and nobody scores 80 goals let alone 50 goals.”

The Wings appear ready to give Mantha, won’t turn 20 until September, every opportunity to make the team out of camp.

“I know Mike Babcock wants to give Mantha some opportunities with Datsyuk, Zetterberg, with our best players,” said Holland, who selected Mantha 20th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. “We have eight exhibition games and I know we want him to play five or six. After we’ve watched him play for three weeks and we get to the end of September or early October, he’s got to take somebody’s job.”

Mantha is in Traverse City attending his second development camp that runs through Tuesday.

“They gave us the message to be every-dayers starting last year and that’s what I’m trying to do this year,” Mantha said. “It’s just about being calm, coming out here and doing what I should be doing here. If I’m doing the right things then I’ll get my chance. I’m not trying to put too much pressure on myself.”

And he continues exude that level of confidence he did at last year’s training camp.

“I came here last year with that mentality and I’ll go to the main camp with the same mentality because you want to be an NHLer one day in your life, and as soon as that can come I will make every little step that I can do get there,” Mantha said.

Last year, Babcock didn’t take long to burst Mantha’s bubble of making the team out of training camp.

“I don’t want to break the news to him but he ain’t making the team,” Babcock said last training camp. “He’s got to go back to juniors and learn to be an every-dayer. When you compete every day and when you compete on every puck, get strong enough, live it every day and one day you get to play here; in the meantime you get to play juniors or the American League.”

Weiss heading in right direction after second surgery

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings may have not gotten what they wanted through three days of NHL free agency, but there’s one signee from a year ago they’re still counting on … Stephen Weiss.

Weiss appears heading in the right direction in recovery from a second procedure on April 21 to repair an issue with scar tissue from sports hernia surgery he had on Dec. 23.

“He says he feels great,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Thursday. “He went on the ice Monday. (Trainer) Piet Van Zant went up to watch him skate and he thought he looked good.”

The Wings targeted Weiss on the first day of free agency last season and landed the center for a hefty five-year deal worth $24.5 million.

Weiss, 31, managed to play just 26 games this season totaling two goals, two assists and a minus-4.

“I told him I only want to hear if there’s a setback,” Holland said. “If I don’t hear from him I’ll assume he’s getting better and better and better. So no news is good news.”

Weiss was the second line center Detroit decided to go after to replace Valtteri Filppula, who had a career-high 25 goals in his first season in Tampa Bay with 33 assists in 75 games.

But Weiss began the season with a hernia and tried to play through it.

“Coming down for the first game of the year and thinking ‘How are you going to get through the game?’ is probably not the right way to start,” Weiss said at the end of last season. “I have to be smarter. It’s not my first year, I’ve been around a bit and should be a little bit smarter and should have spoken up earlier and maybe some of this could have been avoided. But sometimes that’s not my style. I tend to do that and it got me in some trouble. (Last season was) a huge disappointment, but in saying that it kind of fuels the fire for this summer and next year.”

Weiss was cleared in early June to begin working out and will be able to ramp things up over the summer.

“He was going to do a week of skating and then take a week or two off and get back to his routine in late July or early August,” Holland said. “This was sort of a test run.

“Certainly Stephen Weiss was signed to be an important part of our team,” Holland added. “We were looking on him to provide secondary scoring.”

When training camp began, Weiss was slated to center another newcomer, Daniel Alfredsson, and Johan Franzen.

“We were hoping that line would provide us the secondary scoring we needed because this league is hard to score in,” Holland said. “The last two years we haven’t been able to score at the level we feel we have to be to compete at the top of the conference.”

Injuries have been a common occurrence for Weiss, who had scored 20 or more goals four times in his last seven seasons in Florida, missing the final 26 games of the 2012-13 season with a wrist injury.

“He’s had a tough couple of years,” Holland said. “Mike Babcock and I had a great conversation with many of our players about the importance of having a great offseason and coming to camp understanding there’s a competition for ice time and a competition for jobs.

“We think there’s going to be a real competition to be in the lineup every night,” Holland continued. “We just need to stay healthy.”

Weiss was expected to return from the sports hernia surgery right after the Olympic break.

“It’s been a big disappointment, but I don’t know how much I’d change other than being a little smarter in the summer and maybe a little smarter at the start of the season, not trying to play through these types of things as much as I did,” Weiss said. “Even though it was my first year and I wanted to do things the right way, maybe taking a little time off at the start of the season would have done me better than pushing through and trying to be a little bit of a hero that way. So I got myself into some trouble that could have been avoided by being a little bit smarter.”