Author: Mike Halford

Daniel Cleary

Holland, Cleary will meet next week to decide future in Detroit


After a frustrating year in which he played just 17 games, Dan Cleary will meet with Red Wings GM Ken Holland next week to decide what’s next for him in the Motor City.

It could end up being a pretty intriguing conversation, per the Free Press:

A situation that bears the handprint of former coach Mike Babcock has put the Wings in the position of being honor-bound to keep Cleary, 36, aboard, even as he is coming off a season that saw him play just 17 games, producing two points.

This debacle began two years ago. The Wings had offered Cleary a three-year, $6.25-million contract before he became unrestricted July 1. He declined. The Wings then signed Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson, leaving little space under the salary cap. Then Cleary didn’t sign with anyone. September rolled around. The Flyers offered Cleary a three-year deal for $8.25 million, but Cleary then decided he wanted to stay in Detroit.

He ended up flying to Traverse City, where the Wings already had begun training camp. He met in a hangar with Holland and Babcock. Holland pointed to a near maxed-out budget. Babcock pushed hard for Cleary to be signed. What resulted was a one-year, $1.75-million deal with the understanding the Wings would take into consideration what Cleary left on the Flyers table.

After playing out that $1.75 million deal, Cleary re-signed in Detroit last summer to a one-year, $1.5 million pact.

So, essentially, the Wings are now heading into the final year of an unspoken three-year agreement that’s (sorta) aimed at repaying what Clearly left in Philly. The options for Holland, according to the Free Press, include signing Cleary to another one-year deal, then waiving him if he can’t make the team out of camp. There’s also speculation Holland could possibly offer Cleary a front-office position, though it’d be at a decidedly smaller salary than he’d get as a player.

Isles’ Sundstrom signs in Swedish League

New Jersey Devils v New York Islanders

New York forward Johan Sundstrom has signed with Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League, the club announced on Friday.

Sundstrom, 22, was taken 50th overall by the Isles at the 2011 draft and made his NHL debut a short while later, appearing in 11 games during the 2013-14 campaign.

His time in North America, though, had largely been spent with the club’s AHL affiliate in Bridgeport and given he was a pending RFA, it’s not surprising he returned to a Frolunda team he played for both prior to and after being drafted.

Sundstrom appeared in 72 games last year for Bridgeport, scoring seven goals and 19 points. He’s now the second young Islander to leave the organization for the SHL this offseason — in May, 22-year-old John Persson inked with Farjestad.

Down, but not out: Cooper confirms Bishop will play again this series

Ben Bishop

CHICAGO — Ben Bishop will be back.

At what point, though, remains to be seen.

“Bishop’s going to play again this series,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said after Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 17 of 19 shots in a Game 4 loss to Chicago.”There’s no question.

“I just don’t know when.”

Cooper’s announcement was the latest in a saga that’s transfixed the Cup Final. After twice leaving Game 2 with a mystery ailment, then gutting it out in a 36-save victory in Game 3, Bishop was a late scratch from tonight’s tilt as the Lightning announced Vasilevskiy would get the start just minutes prior to puck drop.

What’s more, Bishop didn’t even dress on Wednesday. AHL call-up Kristers Gudlevskis, who’s been skating with Black Aces, suited up as Tampa’s No. 2 and watched Vasilevskiy become the sixth goalie in NHL history to make his playoff debut in the Stanley Cup Final — and impress Cooper in the process.

“If you tell me we’re going to come in and [Vasilevskiy’s] going to give up two goals, that’s a hell of a job in my book,” the Lightning head coach explained. “We’ve had a lot of success when we only give up two. That kid gave us every chance to win the hockey game. We only scored one.

“I thought he was great. He showed at the pinnacle of the sport that he can play. That’s a pretty big achievement for a 20-year-old.”

That Cooper was so high on Vasilevskiy — yet insisted Bishop will play again — should only further fuel the goalie drama moving forward. And make no mistake, there’s plenty more time for drama; these teams will now have two nights off before getting back at it for Game 5 on Saturday in Tampa Bay.

Which means another 48 hours of goaltender-related queries.