Detroit Red Wings free agency: Daniel Cleary likely to return

Cleary remains likely to return, at a rate of around $2.5 million to $2.75 million per for three years, but the Wings need to get someone off their roster of forwards, first. Alfredsson and Weiss have put Detroit at 14 forwards, a number that will grow by two when restricted free agents Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist get new deals.

This is where being able to buy out Mikael Samuelsson would have helped. The Wings debated it, but Samuelsson could have fought being a compliance buyout because even though he doesn’t need surgery for the pectoral muscle injury that ended his season, he could still claim he isn’t fully healthy — and injured players cannot be subjected to buyouts.

So, what’s left is trading someone. Candidates are Samuelsson (hard to think anyone would take him, though) and Jordin Tootoo (Mike Babcock didn’t use him late in season and into the playoffs). Patrick Eaves might be in play, because the Wings re-upped Drew Miller, and the two bring much the same to the table. Cory Emmerton is on the bubble, but he’s needed for now as insurance in case Darren Helm has another setback in his recovery from a sore back.