I feel like your evaluation of Cleary is the same as Holland and Babcock's: valid a year or two ago, but no longer. Cleary this season has proved far less capable of battling along the boards, giving the opposition fits, working, digging, and retrieving than most anyone on this team. He's appeared to have played better the last few games, but its because he is playing with the best player in the game. Last night Cleary did very little from a mucking, creating havoc, and generally being a work-horse standpoint; the things that used to make him successful.
You seem to acknowledge that he isn't the same Dan Cleary anymore, and yet when I read the rest of the post it sounded like you were Ken Holland and just brought him back after he failed elsewhere, living in the past, describing how he was years past to justify his acquisition today. Dan Cleary has provided nothing unique or useful the majority of this season. Any flashes of his old self do not trump the contributions just about any other player in the lineup could provide better and more consistently at this point in time. Tatar provides energy, skill, enthusiasm, and scoring touch, on top of being generally tough to play against. Even Tootoo would do a better job on Pavel's wing, providing all the things you described in Cleary but a whole lot better.
I have to disagree with that, in my opinion. I think he did one hell of a job at holding the fore-check within their zone, numerous times while they were trying throw it up the boards to get it out, he staple gunned them to the boards and held the play. That allowed for abby to push in, support and pasha laid back to grab a takeaway/pass/open puck. It worked good last night, against one of the bigger teams in the league. I understand Tatar could use his speed, hell, any relatively good coach will tell you it's wiser to use your speed on the breakout rather than trying to dangle your way through. Kid's normally have the hardest time with this. They'll go to be deke-master-flex and not realize that they could've easily just burned the defender on the outside.The problem is, Tatar shows really good board play, forechecking abilities, finding positions but it's against bottom 6 lines. I just don't think he would be able to handle himself all game going against a guy like Weber. As much as i'd like to see cleary sit, and i'm ALL for that, we need him right now due to these injuries. And no, I don't think Tootoo would be productive playing with Pasha. Line-mates don't equal statistical explosions, it's been discussed more than enough times to go research via HFB.