It has the potential and likelihood of being $2.5 million for a player that produced all of eight points last season. Tomas Jurco scored eight goals alone in about 15 fewer games than Cleary and was a big reason why the Red Wings made the playoffs at all. So if your argument is that this deal is somehow a bargain for Cleary, I completely disagree.
Cleary got his chance last season to go out with his head held high at the expense of the Red Wings MVP. There's plenty to be upset about.
Cleary isn't blocking Jurco from playing in the NHL. Even without Cleary, it is pretty obvious he'll be in the AHL to start the season. Alfie returning would have us at 13 forwards not counting Cleary. Cleary and Andersson are gonna be in a dog fight to try to avoid being the 13th and 14th forwards. There are 12 other forwards VERY unlikely to give up a permanent spot to either. It is better to have Cleary taking up a healthy scratch than Jurco, don't you think?
A returning Alfie has more impact on where Jurco starts the season. If Alfie decides he can't play, Jurco will have his shot to win a roster spot. Just like Cleary. If Alfie comes back, Jurco will be the first call up. If he makes an immediate impact, he'll no doubt stick around.
Cleary for one year is a low risk signing. Who cares what the salary is? The cap space was there, and Holland felt he owed him. That's a stand up move whether we agree with it or not. If Cleary is in the lineup, he has to earn his way there. He'll only take a job from a kid if he earns it. In the mean time, if he does in fact have a bounce back season, that is fantastic for us. If he struggles like last year, he won't play. It's really that simple.
It's either give Cleary a contract or give Landon the spot. No offence to him, but nobody seems to high on him anymore. He is likely Emmerton 2.0. At least if Cleary can have a bounce back season, it gives the team a shot of having a playoff warrior on the team to do the dirty work. He was important to the team in the 2013 playoffs while having a rough, injured year. A healthy Cleary come playoff time could be a great thing. If not? It's just a one year contract that does nothing to hurt the team.