The Detroit Red Wings have agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract with veteran winger Daniel Cleary, reports Darren Dreger of TSN. The deal also includes $1 million in bonuses tied to games played, allowing Detroit to retain the veteran forward on a reasonable deal.
Cleary, 35, has been with the Red Wings since the 2005-06 season. One of the mainstays of the team along with the likes of Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall, he’s willingly taken on a smaller role in recent seasons as his physical ability has declined. Now essentially depth on the third or fourth line, Cleary gives the team a strong locker room presence who knows the system.
Last season, Cleary saw his lowest average ice time since his first year in Detroit, and recorded just four goals and eight points over 52 games. By points per game, it was easily his worst season in years, and that lack of production likely explains Mike Babcock’s decision-making.
Injuries didn’t help Cleary, either, and he missed the remainder of the season after a knee injury in January. The Red Wings have always stuck by the veteran, even when he openly considered leaving the team as a free agent last year and nearly joined the Philadelphia Flyers.
Cleary is three years removed from his best season, a 26-goal, 46-point performance in 68 games with Detroit. From 2007-11, Cleary averaged 17 goals and 40 points per season, proving to be a solid role player next to the Red Wings’ core of stars. He’s also played for the Phoenix Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks during his 16-year career.