The NHL Players Association web site no longer lists Downey as unsigned. The web site lists Downey as a Wing with compensation of $575,000 for the 2008-08 season.
I spoke to Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill shortly before noon and he said "we're very close" to signing Downey to a one-year, two-way contract.
Downey would make $575,000 with the Wings or $100,000 with the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Wings have also offered Darren McCarty a similar two-way contract. The Wings are less than $500,000 under the cap and still plan to sign veteran defenseman Chris Chelios.
"Because of our roster situation, we have no choice," Nill said of offering the two-way contracts. "We have to have flexibility."
Players like Downey, Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Ville Leino, Jonathan Ericsson, Kyle Quincey, Derek Meech and Jimmy Howard will go to camp hoping to win one of the final roster spots on a team overflowing with talent.
Nill said the Wings wanted Downey back because "he did a great job last year."
"He created room for the skill players and that's not any easy job," Nill said. "And he fit in will in the room."
Downey, who turns 34 on Aug. 27, had 116 penalty minutes in 56 games last season and had no goals and three assists.