The NHL's shrunken salary cap in the aftermath of the lockout has left many veteran UFA's bereft of contract as training camps are set to open later in the week. Unfortunately it's fueling an unseasonable rumor mill and the Dallas Stars are being connected to former Detroit Red Wing Dan Cleary in various conjectures.
Look for unsigned UFA Dan Cleary to find his way to Dallas. Connections are GM Jim Nill, and Michigan training buddy Shawn Horcoff.— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) September 8, 2013
Why do i think dan cleary will sign in Dallas? Jim Nill and Cleary bud Shawn Horcoff— Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty) September 6, 2013
There's just one big problem with that - The Stars currently sit at just $1,306,389 under the league's $64.3 million salary cap, and Cleary's most recent cap hit with the Red Wings was an even $2.8 million. If Jim Nill were serious about wanting to add the veteran grinder, he'd likely have to shed some salary in some form or another before it could happen.
They could gain a little space (about 600k) by sending McDermid or Chris Mueller down, but even if they fit Cleary just under the wire it eliminates any flexibility to add salary at the trade deadline, not to mention having Jamie Oleksiak and his $1.369 million cap hit on the roster for any meaningful period of time this year.
Cleary is a left shot listed as a right wing, so that would cloud an already intriguing picture down the right side where Rich Peverley, Erik Cole, Alex Chiasson and Valeri Nichushkin are already seemingly in the mix. It was also give Dallas some pretty enviable forward depth and experience, but at what cost?
Contract length may be a deterrent. Dallas has used an extra year on a contract where others wouldn't (Ray Whitney) but is that the way Jim Nill wants to to business as well?
The Stars don't need Cleary, and it may not be worth the cap headache to get him. Additional veterans means less and less ice time for the "great, young kids" Nill keeps mentioning.
Back on July 5th Sportsnet had Cleary Close to signing with the Stars before the Dan Ellis announcement in the afternoon, but nothing ever came of it.
Dan Cleary might be the 1 moving on in Detroit.Last night, he was 90% set on joining his best friend SHorcoff in Dallas. Ducks in on it too.— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) July 5, 2013
It just seems like a lot of smoke right now, but we'll keep an eye on it. He's supposedly set to make a decision by the end of the day. Other teams' supposedly interested include the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins (which makes far more sense if he wants to win...) and the Anaheim Ducks.
Again, just a rumor. What's odd is that Dallas Stars fans are talking about cap space in reference to the ceiling.