Just when it seemed like the Flyers were done making moves, they shock us with a surprise pickup: forward Dan Cleary. According to multiple reports, Cleary, 34, has signed a 3-year $8.25 million deal to come to Philadelphia. His addition means that Simon Gagne has probably seen his last days in orange and black. It also makes it very likely that top prospect Scott Laughton will spend another year of development in juniors. Many folks are questioning giving another multiple year contract to an aging player but Cleary should slide seamlessly onto the Flyers third line beside Sean Couturier and Matt Read.
(Update): According to GM Paul Holmgren, Cleary has not been extended a contract, and will instead be coming to camp on a professional tryout. This announcement is not surprising however, as the Flyers were already a few million over the cap, so adding Cleary’s $2.75 million annual cap hit would be somewhat tricky. But, despite this announcement, it’s very possible a handshake deal between the two sides is in place. The official announcement of the contract may come out as soon as the Flyers front office gets their ducks in a row and moves out some salary. Andrej Meszaros and his $4 million cap hit could be the primary candidate, if they can find a willing partner.
Cleary is coming off a somewhat disappointing year in which he put up only 15 points (9 goals 6 assists) in 48 games. He was, however, very productive in the postseason for the Red Wings as he chipped in 10 points in 14 games. Despite his age, Cleary is a gritty power forward. He’s sound defensively and could even become a key component of a deep Flyers penalty kill. If the rumors of the agreement are true, it’s pretty safe to assume that Cleary could put up 15-20 goals and around 40 points. He would also provide Stanley Cup experience to a rather young forward group.
With Cleary on board the Flyers lines would look something like this:
The next few days could be very interesting for Flyers fans. Are we going to see Holmgren and assistant GM Ron Hextall work the phones in hopes of making a trade? Or will they opt to move some players to the minors until Pronger’s LTIR exception ($4.9 million) is off the books the first day of the season? Either way the potential addition of a veteran like Dan Cleary will only help in the Flyers quest for that elusive 3rd Cup.