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Cleary, Brunner, Filppula losses can’t be ignored

Aug 1, 2013, 3:44 PM EDT

Cleary Getty Images

Red Wings day on PHT has been pretty positive so far, but that’s not to say it’s all optimism in Motown.

As of now, it’s unlikely that forwards Dan Cleary and Damien Brunner will be back with the club next season. Both players are unrestricted free agents; however, the Wings simply don’t have the space to fit them under the salary cap.

Cleary has been with the Wings since 2005, appearing in 121 playoff games (24G, 28A). This past postseason, the 34-year-old Newfoundland native finished second in team scoring behind Henrik Zetterberg, registering four goals and six assists in 14 games. Brunner, meanwhile, led all teammates with five postseason goals while also adding four assists.

One player who definitely won’t be back is Valtteri Filppula, as he signed with Tampa Bay. Filppula finished tied for fifth in team playoff scoring, with six points.

Add it up and that’s three of the Wings’ top six playoff point-getters from 2013 gone.

Obviously, some of that offense will be replaced by the additions of Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson. In fact, it’s possible those two more than make up for what walked out the door. It’s also hoped Mikael Samuelsson, Darren Helm and Todd Bertuzzi can stay healthy in 2013-14, and that some of the youngsters can step up and produce with some consistency.

But that hasn’t stopped some Wings fans from racking their brains, trying to figure out a way for general manager Ken Holland to bring Cleary and/or Brunner back. Trading Jordin Tootoo would free up a roster spot and some cap space, but would there be any takers for a 30-year-old, bottom-six forward with two years left on his contract, with a cap hit of $1.9 million?

According to’s Ansar Khan, this is how the Wings’ forward lines could look next season:

Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel DatsyukJustin Abdelkader

Johan Franzen-Stephen Weiss-Daniel Alfredsson

Drew Miller-Darren Helm-Todd Bertuzzi

Gustav Nyquist-Joakim Andersson-Tomas Tatar

Mikael Samuelsson and one of Cory Emmerton, Patrick Eaves or Jordin Tootoo as the reserves.

  1. bensawesomeness - Aug 1, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    I like Nyquist and Andersson better than Emmerton, and i think Tootoo’s gone.

    I really, really like Cleary and Brunner, and it sucks to see them go, but it is what it is. If we had enough room on the roster, they’d be on, but we can’t do anything about it right now

    • polegojim - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:08 PM

      Doesn’t happen often… I disagree with Jason on this one. The Wings did nothing but get better without a single regret.

      The only one of those three that was an impact player was Cleary. He played better than Franzen in front of the net in Holmers old role.

      Brunner was a healthy scratch several times late in the season… inconsistent.
      Val has ALWAYS been soft and I believe a wash on the ice… gave away as much as he brought.
      Samuelson contributed very little… so would like to see him bought out if it becomes possible.
      Really like TooToo… I believe we need him. Bert’s enforcer days are over due to age… and past situation.

      I LOVE what the Wings did this off-season.

  2. jamescrank - Aug 1, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    First off the Wings have to buyout Samuelson which will clear up 3 million in cap space and then trade Eaves or Miller (preferably Eaves but Miller would probably get more in return) for picks. With 2 of those 3 off the books there is plenty of cap space to sign Nyqvist and Andersson. Next I would put Tootoo on Waivers so you can hide him in Grand Rapids (assuming no other teams pick him up) and bring him up when the Wings need some added toughness against some of the big bad eastern conference teams. This would also free up a roster spot for Cleary if he is willing to sign for less than what Wings were paying him before. Kenny still has a lot of work to do, but I look forward to see what he does!!

    • mathieug79 - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:46 PM

      Isn’t Samuelson injured? might be able to put him on LTIR instead of buying him out.

  3. 87whines - Aug 1, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Samuelson can’t be bought out. Buyout period over. Too too can’t be stashed in Grand Rapids. Trade or he stays with club. Cleary will be back once roster spot cleared and cap space is available.

  4. jamescrank - Aug 1, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Actually a new buyout period starts tomorrow 8/2/13 and closes Monday 8/5/13 so the Wings can buyout Samuelson. Also the Wings can stash Tootoo in Grand Rapids just like they did with Aaron Downey 3yrs ago.

    • bensawesomeness - Aug 1, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    • ryanprzy - Aug 1, 2013 at 10:54 PM

      I thought that the new CBA doesn’t allow for teams to “hide” unwanted contracts in the AHL anymore.

      • timmmah10 - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:00 AM

        You can only stash a portion of his salary in the AHL (900k I believe).

        They won’t stash him. Trade or buyout. If he’s a healthy scratch… he’s out.

  5. alanesser - Aug 1, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    Samuelsson is still hurt. If there is a current injury, a player cannot be bought out.

  6. wiebechuk - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    This is the regular buyout period so you still have 2/3 of the cap hit, n I think u may buy out injured players with a regular buyout. So the 3 options I can think of with Samuelsson would be: 1) to use a buy out n get a roster spot available n just take the 2M penalty n have 1M extra cap space. 2) put him on waivers n if he’s not picked up have him in GR but that only hides 900K of salary so u get that much cap space n a roster spot. 3) try n put him on long term injury reserve like the flyers did with pronger n have the roster spot and $3m cap space…
    Even with the extra 900-1M cap space that would give about 2M to sign Nyquist and Andersson. Than our cap is eaten up again plus have 1 too many spots..
    So if they were to trade Tootoo and eaves for a couple picks that’d be amazing n would give 1 extra roster spot with 3M cap space. Plus we do have one backup option with alfy’s bonus which is that we could apply it to next years cap which would give 5M space for this year, and I personally think we should get Brunner back, top 6 talent, right shot, goal scorer, shoot out specialist.
    Than when bertuzzi retires after this season that’s 2M gone that will take up the 2M bonus so it’ll just scratch out each other.
    Imagine the scoring depth of:
    With miller n Emmerton as the extras. No defense could contain 4 lines of goal scoring potential

  7. withseidelinn - Aug 1, 2013 at 7:03 PM

    There is something very wrong when Justin Abdelkader being on the first line when you have Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar in the ranks. Give those guys ice time!!!!

    • fusionix7 - Aug 1, 2013 at 8:34 PM

      You can’t have all finesse on a line. You need somebody to do the dirty work and create room.

  8. porkchopexpress1969 - Aug 1, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    Data wanted Abby up there because he goes after pucks. Clearly I’m ok with. I really likes Brunner. Sad To see him leave, but he made his bed. Holland made a fair offer, and Z busted his Azz to get him on the team.

  9. lvwingfan - Aug 1, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    Cleary is over the hill….bad knees and all. He took a lot of dumb penalties and has no speed. Abby is with Dats because Pavel wants him there (did you watch any games last year)?? That is pretty common knowledge to most Wings fans.

    No one on this thread seems to give any credit to Miller and Eaves! They are pure grinders like Maltby and Draper a few years ago. Both are excellent on the PK and get their noses dirty in the corners. Give them credit for what they add to the mix!

    If you want to light a fire under someones rear, make it Franzen. He’s the one withthe huge contract and he needs to step up!

    • wiebechuk - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:25 AM

      I love miller n eaves too but they r pretty much the same player just shoot different hands.
      I am most confused why they gave Alfy $5.5M after bonuses for a 40 year old, than get Brunner locked up for 3-4 years for 1.5+ less. Brunner has potential to be a 30-40 goal guy, people forget he played almost 100 games last year, plus adjusting to North America hockey and condensed travel n time zones with little to no practicing either, teams were lucky to get a practice in a week. Babcock says he’s very coachable and always wants to get better. He could of been maybe the biggest steal ever for 3.5-4 mil/season for 3-4 seasons.
      And I chose bertuzzi over miller for his passing, size and hands. We got screwed in shoot outs last year without him. Shoot out lineup of datsyuk,Brunner,bertuzzi would strike a lot of fear in goaltenders

  10. wiebechuk - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:10 AM

    Abby is like a bigger, faster holmstrom. Better stick handling n shot, but homer did have that amazing hand eye coordination.
    And just cuz Nyquist n Tatar aren’t given top 6 doesn’t mean they won’t get minutes. Plus keeping Nyquist/Anderson/Tatar together is the best move because of their chemistry in the AHL, they were probably the best line in the league, n Nyquist/Anderson/Brunner worked great as a third line so keep them all together. It’ll almost be like having a first line, 2 second lines in that line and the Alfy/Weiss/Franzen, n the line of Brunner/helm/bertuzzi could still contribute just as much as a third line

    • wiebechuk - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:31 AM

      Plus with that kind of scoring depth is great for when injuries occur. Let’s say we lose 2 of our top 6, Brunner and bertuzzi can go immediately up top n its fine, you still have a 4th checking/energy line of miller/helm/Emmerton which isn’t a liability with helm n millers defensive sides

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