The Malik Report
by Paul on 06/15/13 at 05:28 PM ET
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
Will Daniel Cleary be back for an encore with the Red Wings?
Talks to that end will heat up in the coming days, about three weeks ahead of July 5, when Cleary can become an unrestricted free agent. The Wings want Cleary back, and Cleary has said he wants to come back, but given the money that gets thrown around every summer once the market opens, Cleary may well opt to look around.
He’s coming off a five-year, $14 million contract, and made a solid case for his value in the playoffs, when he finished second on the team with 10 points, ahead of Pavel Datsyuk.
On top of that, Cleary was the leading scorer in the Blackhawks series, with five points. He’s 34, healthier than he has been in years, and a big body who repeatedly has demonstrated a willingness to go to the hard areas.
All those are reasons why the Wings want him back, of course. They need a big man to provide a net-front presence on each of the top two lines. Justin Abdelkader showed he could be one of them this past season. It’s not a role that Johan Franzen performs well. Todd Bertuzzi is an option, but it’s hard miles on the body, and Bertuzzi is 38 and has a history of back problems.
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