Mike Halford

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 12:  Daniel Cleary #11 of the Detroit Red Wings looks on against the Anaheim Ducks in Game Seven of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center on May 12, 2013 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Not done yet: Cleary re-signs with Detroit’s AHL affiliate


Dan Cleary is back for another kick at the can.

Cleary, who turns 38 in December, has agreed to a one-year deal with Detroit’s AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, the club announced on Friday. The contract comes just one week after the Red Wings announced they were bringing Cleary to training camp on a professional tryout.

A Stanley Cup winner with Detroit eight years ago, Cleary hasn’t played in the NHL since ’14-15, and spent all of last season with the Griffins. He performed reasonably well, scoring 15 points in 35 games.

“I really enjoyed what I did last season, being in that role, helping the young kids grow into being future Red Wings,” Cleary said earlier this summer, per the Detroit News.

Cleary also told the News “I am, and always will be, a Red Wing at heart,” suggesting that he’s more than happy to help out the organization whatever way he can.

Given he’s won Cup and has over 900 games on his resume, he would be a quality mentor for some of Detroit’s AHL-bound prospects.

Keep an eye on the goaltending situation in Colorado

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 27: Semyon Varlamov #1 and Calvin Pickard #31 of the Colorado Avalanche skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the Detroit Red Wings at Coors Field during the 2016 Coors Light Stadium Series game on February 27, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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On paper, it seems pretty straightforward — Semyon Varlamov will be the Avs’ starter this season, and Calvin Pickard will be his backup.

But in Colorado, things are never really straightforward.

New head coach Jared Bednar said he’s not sure how his goaltending position will shake out this year, telling the Denver Post that Pickard has a chance to shine with Varlamov on Russian national team duty at the World Cup.

“We’re going to watch him through training camp,” Bednar explained. “Obviously [Pickard’s] going to get a real good look at training camp with Varly gone, to play some exhibition games early. And then we’re going to sit down once Varly gets back how exactly we’re going to split the games.

“That will be determined on how each of them are playing along the way as well.”

Again, on paper, this is Varlamov’s net. The 28-year-old is paid like a No. 1 — $5.9 million annually through 2019 — and has carried a starter’s workload, appearing in 63, 57 and 57 games over the last three seasons.

Pickard, 24, has played 36 career NHL games.

But there are some things to consider.

One, Varlamov’s numbers have steadily declined since his banner campaign three years ago, in which he finished fourth in MVP voting and second in Vezina voting:

’13-14: 41 wins, .927 save percentage, 2.41 GAA

’14-15: 28 wins, .921 save percentage, 2.56 GAA

’15-16: 27 wins, .914 save percentage, 2.81 GAA

There’s also the matter of who’s behind the Colorado bench.

Gone is Patrick Roy, who had a curious relationship with Varlamov and the goaltending position in general, really. Often times Roy’s Hall of Fame resume seemed to bubble to the surface.

When Varlamov played poorly, Roy was there with a critique or challenge. When Varlamov played well, Roy was effusive in his praise.

The constant message, though, was that Varlamov was Colorado’s No. 1 goalie. And, at times, Roy made it seem like Varlamov was team’s most important player.

That might not be the same under Bednar. He’s coming in fresh, with almost no previous relationship to any of the players — and in that regard, Pickard becomes awfully intriguing.

The 49th overall pick in 2010, Pickard showed very well last season (13-7-6, .922 save percentage, 2.56 GAA) and received a couple of votes of confidence this summer. The first was when the Avs sent backup goalie Reto Berra to Florida, all but ensuring Pickard would spent the whole season in Colorado.

The second came in the form of a two-year extension.

Pickard also played very well for Canada’s gold medal-winning team at the World Championship, going 2-0 with a 0.50 GAA and .971 save percentage.

So yeah, definitely something to keep an eye on.

Dallas might be the biggest loser at the World Cup

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill is pictured during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

And you thought it would be Team USA.

No, the team that’s lost the most at the World Cup of Hockey didn’t even participate — it’s the Dallas Stars.

To recap:

Tyler Seguin suffered an injury during the exhibition campaign, and was dropped from Team Canada. Dallas later revealed Seguin suffered a hairline fracture in his heel.

Radek Faksa was dealing with concussion symptoms after a questionable Ryan Getzlaf hit during the Czech’s blowout loss to Canada. He didn’t play in either of the Czechs’ final two games of the tournament.

Ales Hemsky left Thursday’s win over the U.S. early, and didn’t return. It’s not clear what the injury might be, as Czech head coach Vinny Prospal wasn’t asked about it in his postgame presser.

It’s a tough situation for GM Jim Nill, to say the least.

Seguin is part of Dallas’ dynamic duo with Jamie Benn, and the profoundness of his absence was highlighted last spring, when he only played in one of the Stars’ playoff games due to a lacerated Achilles. The Stars weren’t nearly as dangerous without Seguin in the lineup.

Faksa is a good, up-and-coming center. He made his NHL debut in last season and fared well, with 12 points in 45 games, but really came into his own in the playoffs, scoring five points — including two game-winning goals — while bumping his TOI up to 16:08 per night.

Hemsky’s been something of a disappointment since landing in Dallas, but he’s still a talented guy that performed well in his second year (13 goals, 39 points) than his first (11 goals, 32 points). Hemsky also had a bigger role in the playoffs, scoring four points in 13 games while averaging 15:24 TOI per night.

It’s also worth noting that, during the World Cup, RFA forward Valeri Nichushkin opted to sign with KHL powerhouse CSKA Moscow.

So yeah, hasn’t been a great tournament for Dallas — but there is a silver lining. The Stars don’t have any players competing anymore.

Flames re-sign Freddie Hamilton: two years, $1.225M

CALGARY, AB - MARCH 16: Freddie Hamilton #25 of the Winnipeg Jets in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on March 16, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Freddie Hamilton, the older brother of blueliner Dougie Hamilton, has signed a two-year extension with the Flames worth $1.225 million, per TVA.

The deal carries a $612,500 cap hit and, most importantly for Hamilton, is of the one-way variety.

Originally drafted by San Jose in 2010, Hamilton has already been traded twice — once to Colorado (in exchange for Karl Stollery) and once to Calgary, just months after Dougie was acquired from Boston in a blockbuster deal at the draft.

Hamilton, who plays up front, should push for some minutes at the NHL level this season. He appeared in four games for the Flames last season, scoring two points, and established himself as a good American League scorer, with 18 goals and 43 points in 62 games.

Hartnell exercises his takesies backsies clause

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 24:  Scott Hartnell #43 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on October 24, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Blue Jackets defeated the Avalanche 4-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Early this summer, the Blue Jackets asked veteran forward Scott Hartnell to waive the no-movement clause in his contract. He agreed and supplied general manager Jarmo Kekalainen with a “decent-sized list,” according to Sportsnet.

But after two months of waiting and wondering, Hartnell called Kekalainen back and told him he was retracting his list and standing firm on his no-move clause.

“I put it to rest with Jarmo,” Hartnell said. “I said I’m coming back and I’m not having this over my head during training camp and the first month of the season. I have a no-move for a reason, and it’s there for me now.

Hartnell admitted the situation was “driving me crazy,” adding that he really loves Columbus and his teammates.

But even with that said, the 34-year-old’s still in a bit of a sticky situation.

His six-year, $28.5 million contract has three years remaining and, at $4.75 million per season, he’s pretty expensive for the Blue Jackets moving forward, especially with the likes of Brandon Dubinsky and Nick Foligno in similar boats — both are pricey, locked in long-term and armed with no-movement clauses.

That said, Hartnell does have value.

He scored 23 goals and 49 points last year, leading the club with 10 power play markers while averaging around 15-and-a-half minutes per game. He’s also provided some good veteran leadership with his gritty, in-your-face style of play.

For the record, the Jackets and Kekalainen have never publicly stated why they wanted to trade Hartnell. It could be for salary cap reasons, though the club would get some relief in the form of injured forward David Clarkson, whose $5.25M hit could be put on LTIR.