Detroit Red Wings free agency: Daniel Cleary likely to return

Cleary remains likely to return, at a rate of around $2.5 million to $2.75 million per for three years, but the Wings need to get someone off their roster of forwards, first. Alfredsson and Weiss have put Detroit at 14 forwards, a number that will grow by two when restricted free agents Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist get new deals.

This is where being able to buy out Mikael Samuelsson would have helped. The Wings debated it, but Samuelsson could have fought being a compliance buyout because even though he doesn’t need surgery for the pectoral muscle injury that ended his season, he could still claim he isn’t fully healthy — and injured players cannot be subjected to buyouts.

So, what’s left is trading someone. Candidates are Samuelsson (hard to think anyone would take him, though) and Jordin Tootoo (Mike Babcock didn’t use him late in season and into the playoffs). Patrick Eaves might be in play, because the Wings re-upped Drew Miller, and the two bring much the same to the table. Cory Emmerton is on the bubble, but he’s needed for now as insurance in case Darren Helm has another setback in his recovery from a sore back.

23 Responses to Detroit Red Wings free agency: Daniel Cleary likely to return

  1. nordiques100 says:

    The Eastern Conference is pretty brutal. With the new divisions and setup, the Leafs will for sure be in a battle.

    I only see Boston and Pittsburgh as guarantee playoff teams. But with all those losses in personnel from the B’s roster and the Pens with some warts as shown in the playoffs, they have issues too.

    The new division the Leafs are in, well there are the well coached and talented Red Wings team that may be a bit thin on D, but play such a solid team game they’re likely going to be tough to keep from the playoffs.

    The Habs were 2nd in the conference last year. That’s nothing to brush off. They have good balance, and a lot will depend on their younger core delivering or not. If Subban, Price and Pac have big years, Galchenyuk and Gallagher deliver good 2nd seasons, they could be solid again. Perhaps not 2nd in the conference, but still dangerous.

    The Sens lost their heart and soul captain Alfredsson. But they got Bobby Ryan and they are a good young team on the rise with excellent team defence and goaltending. If they stay healthy, that’s Spezza, Karlsson and Michalek, they could be dangerous too.

    Those are the 3 main teams the Leafs will have to try and beat out. Divisions can max out with 5 entries in the playoffs but with the other Eastern Conference division being equally if not more difficult, Toronto will have their work cut out for them.

    And its not like Buffalo, Tampa and Florida will be slouches either.

    Buffalo today still have Ryan Miller. they’ll be competitive and are always a hard team for toronto to beat.

    Tampa adding Ben Bishop finally gives them solid goaltending. Though they lost Lecavalier, with Drouin and Filppula joining stamkos and St Louis, they can still score. They just aren’t quite deep enough at all the other positions to I think be a true factor. but they are still going to be competitive.

    Florida is the same. They’ll have a growing group of kids, Huberdeau, Bjugstad, Barkov, Gudbranson, Markstrom that will only get better. This coming year may not be their year, but they will be still no pushovers.

    The other division is brutal. The Rangers you can expect will score more and have Lundqvist. Pretty tough.

    The Flyers will be better for sure. Lecavalier will make them better and i think the mason/emery goalie duo will hold up.

    The Isles are a team on the rise and I like what they’ve done. Tavares is a hard guy to bet against now. He will and could will them to the playoffs on his own.

    Columbus looks like a tough team too coming east. They’ve added some decent pieces and have the reigning Vezina winner. They wont be fodder for the East at all.

    Carolina is always tough. If Ward is back that stud in goal could carry them.

    And while the Caps won’t have those weak southeast teams to beat up anymore, they still have OV and will be dangerous.

    Not sure how well the Devils will do, but they have a rock solid goalie duo with schnieder there now. Its not going to be easy to beat them either.

    So the Leafs have their work cut out for them. I am starting to understand more and more the Bernier acquisition because I think we’ll need him. We can’t afford any goalie drop off if anyone gets hurt.

    And the added character guys who go out and win, bolland and Clarkson, are huge for this young team. Toronto won’t be pushovers at all.

    I just worry how well the D can hold up with this. 48 games was good for them. 82? Not sure. Thats why an upgrade on Liles seems pretty imperative to me. even if they could even upgrade on someone to push gunnarsson to the 3rd pairing, that would be excellent for Toronto.

    I think we’ll need it to ensure our chances are even better to get out of the East and into the top 8.

  2. realistic_leafs_fan says:

    Good analysis.
    Top 4 D is definitely needed. Not much out there though unless a trade is made.
    3rd line veteran help could come from Kobasew or even Tim Brent for fourth line and move McClement to third line wing if we are looking at UFA help.

  3. DannyLeafs says:

    I think a D upgrade would be the piece that will take them from battling for a spot to a team that will be in the should make it column. I like the forward group, good young goalie tandem, and I think the back-end could develop on their own, but with Phaneuf as our far and away best top end defensive guy, it’s a definite possibility that our back-end gets exposed as our weakness. It depends mainly on Franson and Gardiner in my opinion. We could get by if their performance in the playoffs becomes the norm, but hoping that not just one, but two young player take what they did over 7 games and turn it into a consistent 82 game performance would be a tall order.

    I love the McDonagh signing for NYR, but that cap space is running out quick. Not that McDonagh is getting too much, I think under 5 million for a young guy of his calibre is a good investment, but with about 6.5 million and Stepan, Hagelin and Zuccarello left to sign it will be a snug fit at best. Stepan may not get a long term deal, but I don’t imagine there will be an appetite for a low dollar amount either. He may not quite have proven he is a legitimate #1 center yet, but there is no doubt that after 3 seasons without missing a game and putting up increasing PPG totals each year that he is a bona-fide top 6 forward. He may not require big term yet, but he will likely want around 4 million plus (likely his agent presses for much more).

    That would leave less than 3 million for Zuccarello and Hagelin, two guys they are high on. Again, they may not require massive contracts, but that doesn’t change the fact that their cap space is pretty limited with little in the way of easy salary dumps or decisions.

    It will be interesting to see how that plays out. They will likely be in cap trouble again next off season two with so many important pieces to re-sign. Lundqvist, Callahan, Del-zotto, Brassard and Girardi, with no bad cap money coming off the books it won’t be comfortable next year either.

    • realistic_leafs_fan says:

      In keeping with the “need a D theme”. I compiled a list of D-men that may be realistically available. I am not saying the Leafs need each guy, but I think each one may be available for different reasons.

      Bryan Allen
      Was not used a lot last year, 6th on the D in TOI. carries a $3.5 price tag for 2 more seasons.
      Tyler Myers $5.5 mil. He is not progressing as hoped. 2 sub-par years in a row. Not likely to move, but if the price was right…
      Dennis Wideman $5.25. Changes in Calgary and the 30 year old has 4 more years on his contract
      Erik Johnson $3.75 for 3 more years. He has underachieved and Colorado needs to start working on their D
      Jonathon Ericsson $3.25. Last year of his deal before becoming UFA. The signing of Dekeyser would make a move for a lower priced D possible
      Coburn $4.5
      Mezaros $4
      Grossman $3.5
      One or two are likely to become a cap casualty
      Derek Morris $2.75. The 34 year old is UFA at end of season
      Brooks Orpik $3.75 UFA end of season. They brought back Scuderi and gave Letang a big raise.
      Matt Niskanen $2.3 UFA at end of season. Not likely Pit can keep everyone and they are high on Despres. One of the two mentioned may go
      Boyle $6.67
      Burns $5.76
      Stuart $3.6
      The cap strapped Sharks have Thornton, Pavelski, Marleau and Boyle as UFA at end of season. They may still get them all under the cap as Pavelski is the only likely one to get a raise, but they have a lot of money tied up on the backend.
      Eric Brewer $3.875 for two more seasons. He is now 34 and the Lightning need to shed some contracts. If they can’t move Salo, they may have to move Brewer.
      Jason Garrison $4.6 for 5 more years. A bit of a comeback season last season but the contract is not good and the Sedins are up for contract end of season.
      Karl Alzner RFA. The highly touted Alzner will be 25 start of season and has never really blossomed in Washington. He is sound but is probably looking for a decent raise after being paid 3rd pairing money every year from the caps. The caps are also looking to add a centre and may be looking for a more value priced stable D-man.

      Two trade possibilities for Liles

      To Florida for a pick or maybe Liles & Holzer/Blacker for picks/prospect as Florida needs help on the backend.

      Liles to Nashville for Gaustad. It would basically be a trade of salaries and needs. Both have poor contracts, but Liles would help round-out the Preds D and Gaustad is a great face-off guy and could play in our bottom 6. Nashville added Cullen, Stalberg, Nystrom and Hendricks making Gaustad very expendable.

      • DannyLeafs says:

        I would put Vlasic in San Jose as a possibility as well. I would even look at Vlasic, possibly in a deal where we moved Liles for Vlasic and a prospect. I don’t think Burns is moving, as they see him as a long term fit up front, honestly I think they could use another puck mover, so they may view the small cap savings, a prospect and swapping Liles for or Stuart as a very good deal.

        I like the Liles for Gaustad idea too. They could use a veteran PP guy, and Toronto could use Gaustad in the bottom six. Would be an ideal 4th line center and let McClement play wing on the 3rd line most nights. I actually think Toronto would have to get something a little extra in that deal though. Gaustad will never have a good enough season to justfiy 3+ million, however if Liles got to play with Weber on the top PP some nights, he has the talent and ability to make himself into a commodity that could actually get moved for assets. Although, I would take a straight up deal too just because there is already some cap savings, and I think Gaustad could be more useful to us then Liles regardless of salary with our current teams make up.

        I also wonder would Philly trade Coburn for Liles+ with similar intentions. Streit will help their ability to move the puck, but when Luke Schenn is your third best puck mover behind a 34 and 38 year old, I think they still have a need of a guy that can skate the puck. Would s deal like Coburn for Liles and Percy make sense. Philly sheds just over 600k in salary, gets a guy that could be more useful to them in the meantime, and gets a prospect in an area they could use more prospects.

      • Steven_Leafs0 says:

        out of that list I would love to get Burns. Big, young, talented. Everything we need in a top 4.

        To fit him in though is the challenge. We first would have to trade Liles for a prospect or pick. NYI, COL, or FLA are probably the best options with WPG, OTT, and EDM being possible only because they have over 10M in cap and want to make the playoffs next year. We take whatever the best offer is and free up the space.

        Then we make a play for Burns. Lets say:



        Kulemin, prospect, pick (not a 1st and not a Rielly if we can help it).

        With this deal we free up about $1M in cap space, we then sign our RFAs and then with our remaining space (whatever it is) make a play for a replacement for Kulemin.

        Morrow or Raymond come to mind, Morrow would be preferred as he will get a short term deal and bring valuable leadership and experience.

        So that would leave us with:

        JVR – Bozak – Kessel
        Lupul – Kadri – Clarkson
        Morrow? – Bolland – Ashton?
        McLaren – McClement – Orr

        Phaneuf – Burns
        Gardiner – Gunnarsson
        Franson – Fraser

      • mojo19 says:

        Definitely not interested in Jonathan Ericsson. He sucks.

  4. DannyLeafs says:

    I thought it would be worth posting something that isn’t as much about the current day NHL, just something fun to think about for long time hockey fans.

    Are the young stars of Today’s NHL as talented as the stars of the 90’s?

    I had this conversation with a friend who tended to believe that if you took an Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin or Stamkos and just dumped them in the 90’s they would start racking up 150 pt season and dominate as they are in vastly superior phsyical condition and skills that have been honed on the backs of the players that came before.

    I took the other side as I do believe there is some evidence to the contrary. My position is this. We have seen some of the greats from that area dominate the NHL while very late in their career against a lot of the same competition that today’s stars are playing against.

    Is is possible that Teemu Selanne, Joe Sakic, Nik Lidstrom, Jaromir Jagr were as good in their late 30’s and into their 40’s as they were in their prime. Pretty unlikely. Or is it that these players are so good that even after losing a step and their bodies breaking down a little they can dominate because the best from their era are even better than any players in the NHL today.

    Think about some of these numbers. Jagr puts up 123 points and 96 points post lockout as a 35 and 36 year old respectively. Sakic has a 100 pt season as a 40 year old. Lidstrom wins 5 Norris trophies after the age 35. Selanne has 3 better than point per game seasons, and averaged just under a point per game (.94) since the lockout, or after the age of 36.

    There are some other players that really had some aberrant seasons for guys that late in their career as well. Shannahan played a power forward game, which usually means a sharp decline in your late 30’s however at 37 Brendan Shannahan was capping off an 81 point season where he had 40 goals.

    What are the chances that for this group of players their best hockey, and the peak of their physical abilities came at this age? It’s true that none of these were their best seasons, but many people use the argument that back in the early 90’s it was just easier to score, but in terms of phsyical ability and skill guys like Crosby and Ovechkin would be better than Lemieux and Gretzky.

    This group of players is our link, they played against both. Joe Sakic’s best season he had 120 points, 41 points behind Lemieux for the scoring title or in other words he scored 74% as many points as Lemieux. Also in since Lemieux played only 60 games that year, he finished with 1.46 points per game versus Lemieux’s 2.66 points per game. Meaning he scored at a rate of 54% of Lemieux’s scoring rate.

    During the Sakic’s 100 point season as a 40 year old, Sidney Crosby won the scoring title with 120 points. Sakic scored only 20 points fewer, or 83% of Crosby’s output. In terms of points per game, Sakic finished with 1.22 points per game against Crosby’s 1.52 which means that Sakic scored at 80% of Crosby’s rate.

    So my assertion is that 40 year old Sakic was closer to Sidney Crosby’s level of talent then 27 year old Sakic was to Mario Lemieux’s. Some might argue that Crosby was only 19 at that time and not in his prime, but to that I would like to point out that Lemieux was 30 with back problems and a cancer diagnosis.

    I know it’s nothing definitive, different era’s, the game is played differently, and even the players I used as examples evolved their games, but it’s certainly something to think about, and certainly enough to at least question whether today’s superstars are on par with the ones of the late 80’s through the 90’s era.


    • mapleleafsfan says:

      It’s an interesting way to look at it for sure. I was always on the side of your friend, that Crosby vs Gretzky wouldn’t even be close (due to current conditionings etc), but this is an interesting way to look at it. Even if Crosby wasn’t in his prime at 19, he’s never put up better numbers than he did then. I honestly didn’t realize how much sakic dominated at 40. Gotta think 25/26 year old sakic who put up 120 points would be better than 40 year old sakic who put up 100.

      Overall it’s impossible to judge, especially with how training and the game in general has changed.

      Cool post.

    • realistic_leafs_fan says:

      It is almost impossible to compare as the rules have changed so much. The NHL re-instated tag-up offside in 2005 along with getting rid of centre ice for two-line passes. The late 90’s had neither of these rules and the centre ice rule only recently (since 05).
      As well after the first lock-out, obstruction started to be called. More hooking calls and slashing calls, more boarding and high sticking calls with longer penalty minutes. Goalie equipment is ridiculously huge now (despite the decreases in size they keep incorporating). The pads are taller, the shoulder pads still look like lacrosse goalies.
      It’s fun to compare the decades, but hard to compare the talent with so many equipment and rule changes. I do agree though that players are even better conditioned now than 20+ years ago.

      • DannyLeafs says:

        I agree with both that it’s impossible to say for sure with the rule changes and even the culture changes in the way the game is played, and that players today are better conditioned then they were back then. I would even go so far as to say that maybe guys like Sakic and Selanne were in better physical condition in their late 30’s then they were in their 20’s as we know much more about the proper way to train and proper nutrition today.

        What I was trying to get to was the question of skill. Are players today as skilled and talented? That’s a more complex and interesting question. Aside from what I posted there is some logic behind the thought that the best of the best back then had more pure skill then the best of the best today.

        Today hockey is taught in a very structured manner, defensive responsibility, positioning and formations are taught and drilled much more. This is great for the overall team, but for those few elite talents, it means they get less freedom to explore their individual skills and creative abilities. Next, it’s true that players today spend much more time in the gym and away from the ice training then players back then, but that also means a lot of players in the 90’s spent more time on the ice then players do today. Back then, it was thought the only way to get better at hockey is to be on the ice as much as possible. For the majority of players, today’s methods work better, but again, for the truly elite players, those extra hours honing on ice skills were likely well spent.

        I believe that today’s structured approach to the game has increased the overall average skill level of the league, and dramatically decreased the gap between the mediocre players and the elite, but can it be said that it also did so by holding back the most talented players a little bit?

    • Gambo says:

      Good post, this is something I think of often too. I think the physical conditioning and preparation is the biggest difference, but if you put the elite NHL players from the 80s in the NHL today, they would obviously have changed their way about making themselves a better player. So I don’t think it’s fair to say that Crosby would be better than Gretzky because he’s in better shape, or something like that.

      It’s easy to say that a player like Ovechkin could score 100 goals in the 80s or that Gretzky would barely put up 100 points in todays NHL, but can anyone really judge that?

      I never watched any hockey in the 70s or 80s so I don’t really have any proper analysis on the style of the game played back then, but I’m sure the elite players of each era would be able to adapt and find ways to excel in each time period.

  5. 93killer93 says:

    St Louis has about 9.5mil in cap space and they still have to sign Stewart and Pietrangelo. Seeing what guys like Clarkson and Horton got, I would think Stewart has to be asking for 4mil+. Pietrangelo is probably asking for north of 6.5mil. I’m surprised they haven’t locked up Pietrangelo yet.

    Also Eklund is reporting the Leafs are interested in Ryan Whitney. I hope they can sign him for 1 year at about 1mil.

    • mojo19 says:

      Ryan Whitney is coming off a couple of years of injuries, and last year he was a healthy scratch on a few occasions. He is exactly what we should be looking at though, because he could come in cheap and if he doesn’t play great, at least he’s cheap, but there’s a chance for him to outplay the contract.

      I think 1 year $2 mil would be cool. I wonder if his agent will hold out on his reputation and some of his past accomplishments and ask for closer to $3 mil on a 2 or 3 year deal. That’s probably the case and why he hasn’t signed yet, so looks like he might have to settle.

      I would take a shot for sure.

      • reinjosh says:

        What does he bring that we need though? All he’d do would be to take time away from Gardiner and Rielly (if he makes it). He’s a PMD, not a defensively sound guy. I’m not sure it would really do much for us.

        • mojo19 says:

          He’s just a good player. Rielly was not even close to ready at the Canadian juniors, but he might come into camp ready. Still, might as well give him another year in the minors, no rush.

          Whitney meanwhile, is a good player, he’d be a good addition. He’s more than just an offensive guy, he’s not Sergei Gonchar. He’s a big guy and I think Carlyle could get some use out of him.

  6. mojo19 says:

    So Milan Hejduk’s agent has said he’s leaving the Avs. He’s seeking a 1 year deal worth around $2 million, or less if he can get something with bonuses.

    I hope Nonis has a conversation with him. I know he’s not great, but I would love to have a veteran on the bench.

  7. reinjosh says:

    So I know everyone is looking for Nonis to make a move for a dman but I wouldn’t expect anything. He’s done for the summer, unless some big time deal comes along (which I doubt).

    I fully expect him to let someone from the system try and win a spot, and I suspect that Petter Granberg will surprise and make the team. We already have too many dman and I think Nonis is fully content to let them win the spots they deserve to win, much like he did with Connolly and Kadri last year.

    So Franson, Gardiner, Phaneuf, Gunnarsson all likely have locked spots. That’s going to leave Liles, Fraser, Brennan, Granberg, Rielly, Blacker, Holzer and likely even Percy fighting for those final 3 spots. I think Nonis looks to how Kadri did with competition and will try to do the same with the final three defensive spots.

    I suspect that the Bernier deal factors into this. Nonis is covering his ass if the defense is suspect. By getting two goalies capable of pushing for the starters spot, he’s likely hoping that they will play so well vying for the starter’s role that it will cover and of the mistakes made by the defense.

    Also I wouldn’t expect anymore singings for the bottom 6. Any open spots are going to someone from the system. Makes the most financial sense and we have a few guys who are ready. Specifically D’Amigo and Colborne. I expect we’ll see one, if not both on the opening day roster. In fact I believe that D’Amigo’s NHL readiness was a large reason for management being ok with moving Frattin in the Bernier deal.

    So yeah TL;DR, Leafs won’t make anymore moves.

    • realistic_leafs_fan says:

      You may be right.
      IMO. I think it is a little early to say Nonis is done making any moves or changes though. I still think he will try to improve the team if possible. He may not be able to get anything done, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been or won’t continue to try.

      • Steven_Leafs0 says:

        Unless Nonis finds someone for under 1M or makes a trade (or set of trades) for an upgrade like Burns or Pietrangelo (haha riiiiight), the Leafs will remain unchanged.

        We don’t have the salary space to sign a FA right now. Unless we move Liles.

        • mojo19 says:

          I’d love to move Liles and put the money towards Hejduk and Whitney. We’d be much stronger.

          J.V.R. – Bozo – Kessel
          Lupul – Kadri – Clarkson
          Kuley – Bolland – Hejduk
          McClem – Colborne – Orr/Fraser

          Mix ’em up however you want, Carlyle’s got more options in there with the Duke though.

          Phaneuf – Gunner
          Gardiner – Franson
          Fraser – Whitney
          Brennan – Blacker

          Pretty much the same mix we’re in now, but slightly better.

      • reinjosh says:

        Oh I agree. Any GM will be proactive almost daily in trying to better his team. But I don’t expect much of anything to happen. Historically nothing much happens after the first half of July.

        Unless some big trade comes out of nowhere or one of the big name RFA’s holds out for a trade, I’m not expecting much more change to happen.

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