The Red Wings didn't have the best time in luring unrestricted free agents to their club on July 1. They reportedly struck out on several. So it should be no surprise that the team is turning to the UFAs that were already right under their noses in Detroit last year. The latest is Daniel Cleary who signed a one-year deal to remain with the club on Thursday.
According to Darren Dreger of TSN, the deal will come with a $1.5 million base salary and $1 million games played bonus.
To be quite frank, it's a puzzling contract for a player that has tailed off dramatically since his career year in 2010-11. It seems tough to justify at this point considering that it's hard to see where Cleary fits as the litany of young players who have been developing in Grand Rapids in the AHL should be getting more opportunities.
The 35-year-old's best days are behind him, but the Red Wings will probably only need him in spot duty as younger players look to make a bigger impact next season. He'll be back for his 10th campaign after a rather dismal 2013-14 in which he appeared in just 52 games and registered only eight points. The former 13th overall pick has 385 points in 921 career NHL games.
Cleary, as you may recall, had a deal in place to leave the Red Wings last summer on a reported three-year, $7.75 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. He reportedly agreed to the deal, but just before the season had a change of heart and re-signed with the Red Wings.
Detroit has plenty of space under the salary cap, though do have important deals to get done with restricted free agents Danny DeKeyser and Tomas Tatar, while it's also likely that Daniel Alfredsson will return on another short-term deal with the club if he decides to keep playing. That will give them a bit less wiggle room as the season approaches.
The Red Wings sure do like staying loyal to their long-time players and there's something to be admired about that. However, with such promising young guys coming up and deserving more ice time led by the likes of Tatar, Tomas Jurco , Luke Glendening and Riley Sheahan, it might be time to show loyalty to the future instead of the past.