DETROIT – Daniel Cleary got the money he was looking for.
Cleary will reportedly sign a three-year deal worth $2.75 million a season with the Philadelphia Flyers.
“He’s a good player, we liked him, he was a versatile player,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Tuesday night. “He was a vocal guy in the locker room. He could play left wing, right wing and he could play with star players.”
Cleary will attend the Flyers’ training camp on a profession tryout.
The deal won’t be finalized until the end of the month or until the Flyers can clear some cap space.
“We would have loved to have signed him back,” Holland said. “We tried to sign him prior to July 5, we made him an offer and that moved a little bit but ultimately it wasn’t anywhere near where he wanted it to be.”
When Cleary rejected the Wings’ two- and three-year offers they moved on and signed Daniel Alfredsson (one year, $5.5 million) and Stephen Weiss (five years, $24.5 million) on the first day of free agency.
“The cap money was gone,” Holland said. “Dan gave us some years of real good hockey. We want to wish him well.”
The Wings’ two-year offer to Cleary was just below what he got from Philadelphia. 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.
Cleary skated with his former teammates on Monday and was still hoping to get something done to remain in Detroit.
“It wasn’t what I felt I deserved,” the 34-year-old forward said on Monday. “So I don’t regret it at all.”
Another roadblock to getting a deal done was the Wings’ already having 16 forwards under contract for next season, putting their roster two over the limit, and $637,000 over the salary cap.
Cleary had conversations with Holland on Monday before finally choosing to take the Flyers’ deal.
“It’s not an easy decision to make,” Cleary said on Monday.
Holland had extended Cleary an invitation to training camp on a pro tryout, but with no guarantee of a contract. Coincidently, that’s how he began his career in Detroit in 2005.
“You know I’d love to (be here in Detroit),” Cleary said. “There’s nothing like being a Red Wing.”
Cleary, who had nine goals and six assists in 48 games during the lockout-shortened season last year, has flourished since he joined the Wings for the 2005-06 season.
He’s spent eight seasons in Detroit and has reached the 20-goal plateau three times.
He was also the team’s second leading scorer in last year’s playoffs with four goals and six assists in 10 games.
Cleary was a first round draft pick, 13th overall, by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.