TRAVERSE CITY – The Daniel Cleary saga has come to an end.
Wings general manager Ken Holland has confirmed that they have agreed on a one-year deal worth $1.75 million to bring Cleary back to Detroit.
“It’s been a long process,” Holland said. “We talked to Dan in July, just before free agency, and we couldn’t find a solution. Ultimately we made some decisions. I know Dan had some opportunities this week and he made a decision to come Detroit on a one-year contract.
“We talked about my managing style and the way our ownership runs our team with loyalty,” Holland continued. “You look at some of the guys here in the organization, like (Chris) Chelios, (Kirk) Maltby, (Kris) Draper and (Chris) Osgood.”
Cleary, 34, had reportedly accepted an offer to attend Philadelphia Flyers training camp on a professional tryout. When he was a no-show Wednesday for a photo shoot speculation began that he wasn’t going to report.
The contract with the Flyers he was reportedly set to sign was a three-year deal worth $2.75 million a season.
“The one-year deal is $1.75 (million),” Holland said. “It’s a number that fits into our cap. Over the next three weeks we’ll have to make some moves to get cap compliant before the Buffalo game.
“We think we’re a better team with Clears,” Holland added. “He’s a versatile on the wing, he’s good in the locker room. In the end, he flew up yesterday to meet with me and (Mike Babcock) and his message was he wanted to be a Red Wing and he wanted to work with us. He hopes to play until his 38, 39 years of age, he’s 34, and let’s take a one-year deal and trust that things will work out based on the coach knowing him, based upon the people that he knows in the locker room and the history of the ownership in Detroit.”
The Wings are already two over the roster limit of 23 as they head into training camp next week in Traverse City and $637,000 over the salary cap.
When Cleary 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 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.
“We have until a couple of days before the Buffalo game to work on our roster,” Holland said. “Let’s see what goes on. We’ve got some built in options, but let’s let it play itself out.
“Over the last 72 hours as this thing as heated up and Dan Cleary wanted to make a decision, as one of our internal discussions we all felt we’re a better team with Dan Cleary and we’ll sort this out,” Holland continued. “We have some players on our team that are on two-way contract, Dan DeKeyser is an example. There is flexibilities worked in, not that he’s going down.”
Ultimately the Wings will need to trade someone or place them on waivers in order to meet the roster size and salary cap requirements.
“We have to move somebody,” Holland said. “Unfortunately Darren Helm’s not even healthy, we’re hoping he’s back in a week, but I’ve been told it could be a week to three weeks. Let’s see where we’re at health wise and the competitiveness out there.
“We will be cap compliant, have a 23 man roster when we have to submit it,” Holland ended.
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 the last 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.