Dan Cleary has almost single-handily planted a label within the Detroit Red Wings organization that is thrown around quite often. A label that has ground to stand on with former Wings like Kris Draper and Mikael Samuelsson. The "Always able to get the most out of a Project-Player" label.
Cleary was the 13th Overall pick in the 1997 Draft and was highly regarded upon entering the league. Unfortunetely, for teams like the Oilers and Blackhawks, they were never able to get the most out of the quickly slipping Newfoundlander. Then Ken Holland came calling. After a quiet first season Cleary broke out, potting 20 Goals and 40 Points and making his doubters pay close attention.
Dan Cleary's 2011-12 Stats:
GP • 42
G • 10
A • 9
P • 19
My Pre-Season Predictions:
GP • 70
G • 25A • 20
P • 45
I think it's fair to say I was a bit optimistic after Cleary had a career year last season. He started off the year extremely slow which may have been due to the always mysterious "Upper-Body Injury" (Correct me if I'm wrong, I believe it was Broken Ribs.) and even though he played through the pain, he looked like he was playing through the pain. Cleary started as a top 6 forward and quickly slipped down the ranks to his current but not cemented 3rd line role.
I believe Cleary is more fitted for this role and, outside of injuries, I hope he sticks to the grinding and defensive game he is known for. He does have a knack for the net and scores the occasional timely goal, but outside of good puck protection on the boards, he doesn't have the puck-possession and offensive smarts that a true top 6 forward should have at this stage in his career.
I love his "Give it All, Leave Nothing on the Ice" game and Cleary elevates himself during the playoffs. He has become an "All-Situations" player and can fill roles in the PK and the PP if needed. Dan Cleary is our swiss army knife and we are glad to have him in the Red and White.
I missed this game due to my graduation date conveniently landing on the same night. Fortunately I was able to sneak away with my Dad and listen to it in his Michigan-made Van while everyone else was enjoying there graduation and families. Listening to Cleary score over the radio was something else, and as much as I would have enjoyed seeing this happen, visualizing this as it broke out as well as the evening in general left this as one of my top memories as a Red Wing fan.
Here is a list of past Predictions&Portraits:Filppula
Player Predictions (No portraits, yet!)
Red Wings Season Prediction