This is the season that Dan Cleary drops the rock of his doubters and the rest of the league. Drafted 13th overall in 1997 by the Chicago Blackhawks the world seemed to be smiling on him and was to be the next great power type forward in the organization.
However things soured a little for him for a couple years which stemmed from being brought up to the NHL too early in the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons instead of allowing him to stay in the farm system and grow.
All the bouncing around from Chicago to Bellville to Indianapolis back to Chicago than to Portland before being part of a trade that brought him to the Oilers at the trading dead line in March of 1998, stunted his development and confidence.
After a full season in Hamilton with regular linemates Brian Swanson and Michel Riesen where he displayed the reasons why he was picked so high in the draft. After producing 74 points in 58 games in Hamilton and 3 goals and 2 helpers in 17 games in Edmonton he did not look out of place on a line with Doug Weight and Billy Guerin in the playoff’s. His performance was enough to garner a second chance by the brass in Edmonton to crack the line up this season but he had to come in great shape display heart and desire that was lacking in the past.
Not wanting to be out done by fellow Newfie Harold Druken a fire has been lit under this boy and he turning into the man. Going into the last preseason game in Calgary he has 2 goals and 7 assists in 7 games, has been a handful to defenders down low along the boards and in front of the net. If his play continues into the season he will help solidify the second line that has dogged this team in the past. Or possibly he could move up to the first line with Weight and Guerin and allow the goal scoring to be spread out by having Ryan Smyth to roam on the second with Rem Murray and Chad Kilger.
Regardless of where he plays don’t be surprised if he garners far more attention from the opposition and tally’s 20+ goals and 30 assists and begins his quest to be the Man on the Rock!