August 9, 2013 at 1:55 am

Ted Kulfan

Where unsigned Wings Daniel Cleary, Damien Brunner will land is mystery

After a solid NHL debut (12 goals, 26 points), his two-goal output in the Red Wings' final 25 regular season games appears to have turned off potential suitors for the unsigned forward. (David Guralnick/Detroit News)

Detroit ó Some issues rolling around the NHL during a relatively quiet summer, with training camp about a month away.

News: Forwards Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner remain unsigned.

Views: Iím surprised both are still unemployed at this point of the summer.

Cleary is a bona fide professional, solid guy on and off the ice, and makes whatever team heís with better.

Brunner is a question mark, but given the glimpses of goal-scoring ability he showed last season and the lack of offensively gifted players around the league, youíd figure some general manager would take a chance on him.

But neither has been signed by anyone. And with each passing day, you wonder what options Cleary and Brunner have.

The Red Wings did have interest in Cleary. But the team is over the salary cap (which is $64.3 million, and the Red Wings are at $66.9 million with restricted free agent Gustav Nyquist unsigned) with 16 forwards under contract once Nyquist is signed.

General manager Ken Holland will need to clear roster space, which hasnít been too easy thus far. Other teams are facing similar problems, and have little interest in adding a forward such as Jordin Tootoo or Cory Emmerton.

Donít expect Cleary to wait much further on the Red Wings. If thereís a legitimate offer coming his way soon, heíll likely grab it, as the Red Wings attempt to whittle down their roster.

As for Brunner, the Red Wings were haunted by those two goals in his final 25 games during the regular season.

Unless Brunner lowers his salary demands, it wouldnít be shocking to see him back in Switzerland.

News: With rosters pretty much set, where do the Red Wings stand in the Eastern Conference?

Views: Iím surprised at the number of the fans who believe the Red Wings are inferior to many of the Eastern Conference teams.

Who is that much better than the Red Wings?

Division rival Boston? Yes. Pittsburgh is better on paper. Washington, Montreal, Toronto and the New York Rangers are teams the Red Wings are better than, or at least equal to.

In the division, the Red Wings can easily pass Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Florida, with Boston the pre-season favorite to finish first.

It wouldnít be shocking to see the Red Wings fininsh among the top five in the East.

One can argue the Western Conference was ó and remains ó a deeper conference.

News: Whatís one issue around the league which will create much interest in training camp and into the regular season?

Views: I find the Vancouver Canucks situation fascinating, what with Roberto Luongo the No. 1 goalie again and John Tortorella, as fiery a coach as they come, suddenly in charge.

The media attention early on with this team will be surreal.

Tortorella had run-ins with the New York media when he coached the Rangers. Being in the Vancouver pressure cooker will result in many great soundbites.

If Luongo can forget these last couple seasons and overcome the circus atmosphere, thereís a good chance he can actually thrive, especially with a Canadian Olympic team role motivating him.

Luongo is still an elite goalie. Itís up to him to steer clear of the craziness around him early in the season.

ted.kulfan@detnews.com
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