With the NHL salary cap getting chopped this season in the wake of a new collective bargaining agreement, several proven NHLers remain without a deal.
Veteran forward Dan Cleary, however, is poised to return to the league.
An unrestricted free agent, the 34-year-old Cleary is weighing his options early this week as NHL training camps get set to open. Although Cleary spent the last eight seasons as a solid defensive forward for the Detroit Red Wings, he has received offers from two other clubs.
"It's not an easy decision to make," Cleary told the Detroit Free Press Monday. "But I've got to come up with something today, figure out what I'm going to do.
"I've got options with guaranteed contracts from other teams, so that's what I'm trying to make a decision on."
As reported by Hockey Central insiders John Shannon (in July) and Mark Spector (over the weekend), one candidate for Cleary's services is the Dallas Stars, now managed by Jim Nill, formerly of the Red Wings front office:
The Red Wings invested heavily in free-agent forwards Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson this summer. According to capgeek.com, the team is currently over the new $64.3 million cap for 2013-14.
Cleary's previous contract, which expired in July, carried a $2.8 million cap hit.
The 13th-overall pick in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, Cleary, who hails from Carbonear, N.L., became the first Newfoundland native to win the Stanley Cup, with Detroit in 2008.
Rick Tocchet tweeted Monday afternoon that Cleary had signed to the Philadelphia Flyers, but later qualified his announcement. No deal is official yet: