(UPDATE 9/11: Welp, forget all that. Elliotte Friedman reported on Wednesday that "it appears as if there is some complication between Daniel Cleary and PHI. Told he will not be joining Flyers.")
When the Philadelphia Flyers get their Chris Pronger LTIR cap relief at the end of the month, forward Dan Cleary will join the team after playing for the (conference rival!) Detroit Red Wings since 2005.
Helene St. James reports it’s a cap hit of $2.75 million per season, which is a slight downgrade from the $2.8 million AAV Cleary had on his last 5-year deal with the Wings.
But the head-scratcher is that this is a 3-year deal for a 34-year-old spare forward.
Don’t get me wrong: Cleary brings net presence to the Flyers, along with versatility in the lineup and playoff experience, including five points against the Chicago Blackhawks last May. You figure 12-15 goals, some quality special teams minutes and between 15-17 minutes per night.
He’s an asset the Wings would have taken back, but they couldn’t find the cap space nor did they have a desire to go three years with him. Because Ken Holland, unlike some general managers with crew cuts and Flyers cufflinks, understands the need to filter young players into specific roles.
Therein lies the problem with this signing from a Philly perspective. Tim Panaccio said it best: Cleary ends up taking ice time away from a younger player now and for the next three years. Even a 1-year stop-gap with Simon Gagne would be more beneficial to the Flyers than committing three years to Cleary.
Cleary is likely to be no more than a third-line forward, and the three-year deal makes this a real head scratcher. There was no obvious need for a guy like Cleary. I'm just baffled, and I don't think that's just because I'm tired. What does Cleary bring the Flyers that's worth more than what Tye McGinn or Jason Akeson or Gagne or Laughton or any other number of options could of provided?
Again, it’s not worth burning Paul Holmgren in effigy over the signing of a third-line winger – maybe we can blame Ed Snider for this like we did with Bryzgalov? But it’s just a puzzler, considering where the Flyers seemed headed at the forward spot.
Hey, at the very least, Daniel Alfredsson is free and Cleary to wear No. 11 in Motown.