Update 11:08am ET - It's official: Dan Cleary will re-join the Wings, meaning Detroit now has 17 forwards on their roster.
Breaking News: Wings agree to terms on 1-year contract with Daniel Cleary, who will fly to Traverse City tonight to join the club for camp.— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) September 12, 2013
$1.75m for Daniel Cleary— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) September 12, 2013
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Numerous sources are already guessing what it means that Dan Cleary didn't report to Flyers camp today and the most-common though is that he's going to be returning to the Red Wings.
Aaron Ward (@aaronward_nhl) September 12, 2013
Sure, Ward may have been the guy who got embarrassed with the Iginla to Boston stuff (which later came true anyway), but he seems to be on the level here.
Then this happened:
And here we go: Per Daniel Cleary "Flying to Traverse. I'm back. Signing tonight." #RedWings— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) September 12, 2013
It's important to note that Helene was the first to report Cleary signing with the Flyers, which obviously didn't happen or we wouldn't be here right now. We're stuck in a holding pattern of not really being able to believe what's going to happen until it actually happens.
But I don't have too much doubt that Cleary will rejoin the Wings. I don't know how the Wings will eliminate three players from the roster to make space for this addition. Ansar Khan from MLive said he talked to Holland who claimed that the Wings would not be using an injured reserve workaround to make space, so the idea that the Wings can move two guys and then put Helm on IR to start the season is feasible, but it's not what Holland says will happen. It also causes a problem when Helm is medically cleared. I know people are hedging their bets saying Helm will never play again, but that's not a reasonable stance.
The story has persisted long enough over the course of the summer and it's not hard to believe how much Mike Babcock wants Cleary back in the fold. Until a deal is signed, anything remains possible, but I'm pretty much resigned to him joining Detroit for another season or more.
It's difficult to guess who the three forwards out will be. We've talked all summer about Emmerton, Eaves, Tootoo, Samuelsson, and Bertuzzi. We've occasionally guessed on guys like Tatar being traded or possibly even Abdelkader. We've worried ourselves over Gustav Nyquist's waiver exempt status and have just about completely put it out of our minds that a guy like Drew Miller, who just signed a new contract with Detroit this summer would be traded.
Of those nine guys, two already won't make the team. If Dan Cleary signs in Detroit, that will make three. Even at 34 and on questionable legs, I can convince myself Cleary is either more or at least as valuable as three of those players for this upcoming season. I'm just having trouble convincing myself how long he's going to remain that valuable.
Just like 2005, when Cleary first joined the Red Wings on a last-ditch professional try-out, Cleary will have something to prove if he rejoins the Red Wings this season.