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St. James: Cleary will sign with Philadelphia for 3 years, $8.25 million

Updated 6x at 1:25 AM: Well now we know: Daniel Cleary will be a Philadelphia Flyer:

Update: Wonderful teammate, great leader, defnition of self-sacrifice, but his contract may out-live his knees. The Wings were offering 2 years at $2.5 million, presumably with the NTC, and yet we hear this...

And know that Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, and to a lesser extent, Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan, Landon Ferraro, Teemu Pulkkinen and Calle Jarnkrok have brighter futures because another year is loyalty?

I wish Cleary all the best--I really do--but this just seems weird. The Wings wanted him back, he wanted to be back, but it didn't happen.

And he's leaving Detroit for this?

Update #2:

Here's St. James' story:

Cleary, who had played for the Wings since 2005, remained hopeful to stay in Detroit, but told the Free Press shortly before midnight that “I’m going to Philly.” Cleary said he’d have more to say later today.

Cleary was offered three years and $2.75 million per season from the Flyers, though they cannot make the deal official until the end of the month because they are already over the salary cap. While teams don’t have to be compliant until the season begins in October, the Flyers are bringing Cleary in as a professional tryout. They get $5 million in salary cap relief as soon as they put defenseman Chris Pronger on long-term injured reserve.

Cleary and the Wings had been talking all summer. Cleary rejected an initial offer in June, and when the Wings signed Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss, money became problematic, as the Wings went $640,000 over the salary cap.

So did finding room on the roster. The Wings already are at 16 forwards, two more than they will eventually carry. However, they already have one guy down, as Darren Helm is nursing a strained groin — an injury that rarely takes fewer than 10 days to two weeks to heal. Helm is a further question mark after missing last season because of a sore back that still hasn’t fully healed.

Mikael Samuelsson is another guy whose health is up in the air; he, too, was sidelined most of last season, and while he says he’s fine now, the early proof will come during exhibition games.

Cleary’s teammates and coach, Mike Babcock, were all rooting for for a deal to materialize. Cleary was the team’s second-leading scorer in the playoffs, and their leading scorer in the Chicago series. In the locker room, he was an irascible presence and a leader..

Update #3: Via Sportsnet:

Update #4:

Update #5: Here's Panaccio's take:

Ask Detroit general manager Ken Holland about Cleary’s worth to the Red Wings, and he’d tell you Cleary was one of the “glue" guys that are so important for clubs to win a Cup. That’s what the Flyers figure they are getting for a 16-year NHL veteran who joins his fifth club.

Cleary had been talking about re-signing in Detroit. His last contract carried a cap hit of $2.8 million. Obviously, with the Flyers already $2 million over the salary cap, a trade is coming to lose salary.

Clearly is a tough-as-nails third liner, who might look pretty good with Sean Couturier and Matt Read. He would project to 18-20 goals and 40 points, given his stats over the past six full seasons (not including the lockout year).

The down side to this, of course, is that some young player now won’t make the Flyers roster – perhaps Tye McGinn? And there obviously will be less ice time for younger players, as well.

Ditto for MLive's Brendan Savage:

Cleary said last week that he had offers from other clubs and would not report to training camp with Detroit on a tryout without a deal in place.

The Free Press is reporting that Cleary agreed to a three-year deal with Philadelphia that will pay him $2.75 million per season but it won't be official until the end of the month after the Flyers clear some salary cap space.

Josh Rimer of the NextSportsStar.com radio show said Cleary took the Flyers' offer to the Red Wings hoping they'd match it but the answer was no. The Red Wings are $640,000 over the salary cap and have 16 forwards, two more than they'll carry into the regular season.

Cleary, 34, played for the Red Wings 2008 Stanley Cup championship team.

Update #6: The Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchidi weighs in:

Cleary, 34, an unrestricted free agent who is regarded as a great leader, is expected to join the Flyers on a tryout contract. He will sign when the Flyers gain cap space by putting Chris Pronger on the LTIR list at the start of the season. He reportedly will be paid $2.75 million per season for three years.

There is also a chance the Flyers will deal one of their high-priced defensemen, such as Andrej Meszaros.

The move virtually guarantees that Simon Gagne will not be invited to camp. Max Talbot, Scott Laughton, Tye McGinn and Michael Raffl had been among the candidates to play LW on the third line.

Cleary had nine goals, six assists and a minus-6 rating in 48 games with the Red Wings last season; he had 10 points in 14 playoff games. The 6-foot, 203-pound Cleary brings a different element than Gagne. He is known as an agitator and a pest--and someone who is tough to play against.

Flyers officials did not respond to texts about the reported move.

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Cleary gets money and terms, the Wings don’t get another albatross of a contract around their necks and Philly gets a broken down forward to take a roster spot from a promising prospect!  Everyone wins!!  Or at least, the Wings do.  I couldn’t care less if anyone else does…

Posted by Garth on 09/10/13 at 12:12 AM ET

awould's avatar

I like Cleary but not for more than a year. His knees are glass.

Posted by awould on 09/10/13 at 12:32 AM ET

mormerod19's avatar

I’m sure it was neither money or term. But Detroit couldn’t guarantee the contract would happen. They have WAY too much to do to make room. He moved on a contract while he could rather than continue a hopeful waiting game. He’ll really improve Philly’s depth.  I would have wanted to keep him over Sammy any day, but THAT contract is killing them. The signing as a whole was a failure.

Posted by mormerod19 on 09/10/13 at 12:40 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Yes, yes and yes. The Samuelsson contract should have been bought out and the Wings should have dealt with the possibility of Samuelsson appealing the buy-out.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/10/13 at 12:42 AM ET

awould's avatar

Detroit would have lost to Philly on term. No way Detroit gives him 3 years and no way Cleary takes less if he can get more. And I don’t blame him. Or them. Cleary was a solid player for Detroit. Now he’s not. Go Wings!

Posted by awould on 09/10/13 at 02:19 AM ET

Slumpy's avatar

Best of luck in Philly but those fans are nuts so just be prepared if one of that idiots mimic that tie domi comedy where Philly fan flls into sin bin drunkof course then gets pummuled.
Danny boy may have to resort to beating up home fans before that contract is over.

Posted by Slumpy from Under My Wheels on 09/10/13 at 06:43 AM ET


I wish Cleary all the best—I really do—but this just seems weird. The Wings wanted him back, he wanted to be back, but it didn’t happen.

And he’s leaving Detroit for this?

Well, Detroit DIDN’T want him back.  They offered him a PTO which means that even if he proves that he belongs, he’s not getting a contract until and if the Wings can free up space.  That’s not wanting him back.  I think Cleary and a lot of other people are reading and believing Helene’s BS.

The difference between Philly’s and Detroit’s offers was $8.25M.  $8.25M over three years versus $0.00M over 0 years is, or should be, a very simple decision.

Of course, if Detroit really does want him back they’ll probably be able to re-sign him after Philly buys out the last two years of his contract next summer.

Posted by Garth on 09/10/13 at 07:52 AM ET


Detroit did offer him three years Cleary said so himself 2 days ago. that happened on July 3rd.GM is an idiot of course the wings wanted him back. once wiess signed it was all over for cleary because KH is inept at making trades. sammy is much better keeping him was smart move 1 year vs 3. and if he’s injured all year so what? babs would have played Cleary over anyone not the same for Sammy. by the way philly has used both buyouts but it wouldn’t surprise me if KH brings Cleary back by trade because that’s what he does

Posted by jkm2011 on 09/10/13 at 08:20 AM ET

Ajax19's avatar

I really like Dan Cleary.  He was a very good Red Wing.  That said, I don’t like him at that price.  If the Wings are sore about losing him, they really only have themselves to blame.  The contracts given to Samuelsson and Tootoo at the end of last summer were panic moves.  They weren’t good then and they aren’t good now.

Posted by Ajax19 on 09/10/13 at 08:29 AM ET


If the Wings are sore about losing him, they really only have themselves to blame.

Don’t worry, they’re not.  Or at least they shouldn’t be.

Posted by Garth on 09/10/13 at 08:55 AM ET


Yes, they did indeed offer Cleary three years, but that offer was taken off the table once free agency opened.

Cleary is an idiot for turning down the three year offer and thank God he’s an idiot because Ken Holland was a retard for offering it in the first place.

Posted by Garth on 09/10/13 at 08:58 AM ET

Mandingo's avatar

Ask Detroit general manager Ken Holland about Cleary’s worth to the Red Wings, and he’d tell you Cleary was one of the “glue” guys that are so important for clubs to win a Cup.


God, are people still buying this “glue” bullshit?


Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 09/10/13 at 09:10 AM ET

Figaro's avatar

Thank God the Flyers exist to take terrible contracts away from the rest of the league. 

But yes, Good Luck Danny!  You were a hell of a competitor for us (except this past regular season, where you kinda sucked, but hey, you picked it up in the post season!).

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 09/10/13 at 09:37 AM ET


God, are people still buying this “glue” bullshit?

I wish I understood the stupid Detroit media.

They don’t quote Holland saying that Cleary is the glue, they say that if you asked him he would say that.

The amount of words put into the mouth of Ken Holland by seemingly every Detroit sports writer during this post-season (and specifically surrounding the Cleary talk) and the lack of quotation marks around those words has been astounding.

Posted by Garth on 09/10/13 at 09:39 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

I don’t get all the hate on Cleary.

Let’s hypothesize that the Wings signed Cleary to this same contract. The problem really wouldn’t have been the AAV. It wouldn’t have been the term, even, despite the rough injury history. This isn’t a contract that blows out a budget or cap structure, especially not when we can pretty much count on marked increases in the cap ceiling each of the next two offseasons. If they both absolutely NEEDED a veteran with the versatility of Cleary, and wanted to make the cap space, they could’ve made it work (no great options, but options are there, to be sure).

What does that leave? Simply put, I think it has to be about ice time/roster space. Bringing back Cleary would be worth it for this moderate money and term, but not worth risking:

- Losing Tatar or keeping his scoring ability on the press box
- Wasting Nyquist’s talent another year in GR when he showed very clearly he is ready to play a significant NHL role
- Thinning out their center depth with Emmerton (given the situation with Darren Helm’s back and groin)
- Taking ice time away from the two guys that are the potential heirs to Cleary’s role, in Drew Miller and Patrick Eaves

So, it seems to me the conclusion shouldn’t be all this Dan Cleary hate. I think he is clearly a good value at the number Philly signed him for, and while you’d like 2 years a lot better than 3, 3 really is pretty fair when you look around the market at similar players. The issue is simply that of ice time. It just doesn’t exist here for Dan Cleary without sacrificing ice time that the Wings really do need to give to a couple of younger players if they’re going to commit to these players they’ve worked so hard to draft and develop into NHL talent.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 09/10/13 at 10:04 AM ET


The Samuelsson contract should have been bought out and the Wings should have dealt with the possibility of Samuelsson appealing the buy-out.

So they could sign a guy to a contract that was nearly as much with two more years remaining on it and absolutely no real expectation the guy would be more durable or more productive?

No way.  That’s just plain old fashioned silly.

If we’re talking about a pair of one year deals at the same money, sure.  Cleary over Sammy isn’t stupid.  I wouldn’t do it, but it’s at least an arguable, defensible position to some degree.

Cleary over Sammy when you’re talking about pretty much the same money but TWO more years AND an NTC?  That’s not a rational evaluation.  That’s an ‘I hate Sammy and I don’t care what it makes me sound like’’ evaluation.

And oh by the way… what if Detroit were to lose the buyout fight?  Then what?  They get hit for the cap space and have to make an series of emergency roster moves and/or get hit with other penalties, that’s what.

All for a guy who has gone 21 g and 27 a in his last 123 regular season games and then 8 goals and 10 assists in his last 42 playoff games?  Shut the front door.


Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/10/13 at 10:06 AM ET


I don’t get all the hate on Cleary.

It’s not hate.  The guy didn’t earn his last contract and he won’t earn this one either.  He has been a non factor in three of the past four regular seasons, and really three and a half of the last four when one considers he scored 15 of his 26 goals in 2011 over the course of 26 games in October and November.  Other than that one hot goalscoring stretch we’re talking about 47 goals over 229 games.

He wasn’t playing in the top 6 much, and he had been supplanted on the PK.  He was essentially an average 3rd line forward who couldn’t play center, didn’t PK much, and sucked on the PP (2:30 a game last year, 5 points all goals.)

That’s not hate on Cleary, it’s a dispassionate list of what he actually is as a player.

His good playoff last year wasn’t part of some kind of consistent playoff success.  He did nothing in ‘12, he was decent in ‘11, and he sucked in ‘10.

Cleary back at sub 2, like 1.5… cool.  Cleary at 2.8?  That’s a Philly contract.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/10/13 at 10:22 AM ET


Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/10/13 at 10:06 AM ET

Regardless of the Cleary situation Detroit absolutely should have tried to buy out Samuelsson.

If they ‘lost’ they would simply be in the exact same position they are in now, but if they won then they might not have to make any moves at all depending on Helm’s health.

Sammy’s contract is bad and the situation is as bad as it would be if they had signed Cleary.  Having him playing would be taking away from players more deserving of the ice time.  Sammy is not a top six forward, he wouldn’t be able to keep up if he took up Tatar’s, Nyquist’s or Andersson’s spot on that line and he would be out of place on a line that with any combination of Helm, Eaves, Miller, Emmerton.  At least Bertuzzi can bring something to the table on one of those lines. 

And hell, if he tried to buy out Sammy and it went to some sort of arbitration then maybe Sammy would look at the situation and decide that he’d be OK with a trade anywhere, as long as he got out of the organization that clearly doesn’t want him.  It was a colossal blunder for Holland to not even attempt to buy out Sammy.

Posted by Garth on 09/10/13 at 10:53 AM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

God, are people still buying this “glue” bullshit?

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 09/10/13 at 09:10 AM ET

Well…it’s a sticky situation…

Posted by mrfluffy from the phone, calling Detroit, telling them it's on 09/10/13 at 11:12 AM ET

DocF's avatar

I like Cleary a bunch.  He has been everything the Red Wings needed him to be.  His knees might have one more season in them.  They most assuredly do not have three and probably do not have two. 

To me, this seems to be another Philadelphia strange signing.  Holmgren has done some very absurd things over the last several years.

Now regarding Samuelsson, he should have been bought out when the opportunity was there.  If he protested, so be it.  Leave him on long term injured reserve for the whole year. 

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 09/10/13 at 12:01 PM ET


Posted by Garth on 09/10/13 at 10:53 AM ET

I completely agree. The only thing Sammy proved last season was that he is injury prone. Sammy floats between the 2nd and third lines. The only room for him right now is on the forth line. I completely expect him to be sent down to Grand Rapids to make room for someone more promising.

HiHD could easily be talking about Sammy when he says, “The guy didn’t earn his last contract and he won’t earn this one either.  He has been a non factor in three of the past four regular seasons…” Sammy’s been hurt in three of the last four seasons; barely making it halfway through 2011/12. Before that his skills are cleary (who’s slip) on the downgrade, slacking from 30 goals to a meager 18 for a HiHD proclaimed world talent.

Cleary, while suffering from some injury managed more points (goals and assists) and play more than 2/3s of each season or more than Sammy’s shortened tour of duty. Let’s not forget Sammy’s two points in five games averages to less than what Cleary had while he actually got playing time.

If the Wings weren’t trapped under Sammy’s salary that money most certainly would have gone to Cleary. IMO, Cleary is a poorman’s Yzerman. All Heart.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 09/10/13 at 04:11 PM ET

d ca's avatar

Sammy’s not going to GR…for those that aren’t informed….

The new CBA rule essentially prevents it. Now if a team buries a contract in the minors they only get a maximum cap relief of $925,000 (the minimum NHL salary plus $375,000).

BUT for 35+ contracts in the second year or later of a multi-year deal (Samuelsson and Bertuzzi) caps the relief at $100,000.

The way it stands now Helm’s going on IR and Nyquist is going to GR as he’s waiver exempt.

Helm heals than DeKeyser is going to GR.

The trade market is frozen and has been since the draft. Emmerton can’t even be traded as he’s the insurance policy on Helm. Nobody wants Tootoo’s contract. Eaves is somewhat valuable, but only if he’s playing at 100% without fear of another concussion. So that’s where we sit.

Posted by d ca on 09/10/13 at 06:00 PM ET

wedge56's avatar

If DeKeyser plays this season like he did in limited time last season, there is no chance in hell he is going to Grand Rapids.  Babs might start him there, just to make sure he lights a fire under the guy, but that’s about it.

Posted by wedge56 on 09/11/13 at 09:16 AM ET


$100,000 is better than no money and the wings have nothing to lose (IMO).

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 09/11/13 at 03:25 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.

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