TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – It’s been a crazy few weeks, but the Red Wings and Daniel Cleary each got what they wanted when the veteran forward agreed to a one-year contract on Thursday.
According to Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, the deal is worth $1.75 million, which is a 41.6 percent reduction from the salary that he received a season ago.
“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.”
Cleary, who will be 35-years-old in December, produced nine goals with six assists in 48 games with the Wings last season. This will be his ninth-season in a Red Wings uniform.
The Cleary contract will fit into the Red Wings salary cap, but in the next three weeks, Holland will need to make some moves so they are cap compliant before the season-opener against Buffalo on Oct. 2.
According to several media reports, Cleary had a deal with Philadelphia where he would attend the Flyers’ training camp in a professional tryout. The reports stated that the deal would result in a three-contract that couldn’t be finalized before the end of the month when the team would be able to clear cap space.
On Wednesday, Cleary flew to Traverse City where he met with Holland and coach Mike Babcock at Cherry Capital Airport.
“We think we’re a better team with Clears,” Holland said. “He’s versatile on the wing, he’s good in the locker room. In the end, he flew up yesterday to meet with Babs and I at the airport 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.”
It’s expected that Cleary will arrive in Traverse City by Thursday afternoon. He must first pass a physical before he’ll be approved to participate in Day 2 of camp on Friday.
NHL teams must submit their 23-man rosters by 3 p.m. (EDT) on Sept. 30. The Red Wings now have 17 forwards in camp, but will only keep 14 on the final roster.
“We’d like to move somebody. We have to move somebody,” Holland said. “Let’s see what goes on the next three weeks. 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.”
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