By Allan Muir
Danny DeKeyser’s decision today to sign with the Detroit Red Wings was about as surprising as, well, Good Friday falling on a Friday.
After a dog-and-pony show that saw this year’s top NCAA free agent meet with at least eight NHL teams, he did exactly what we all knew he would by agreeing to a two-year entry-level deal with the Wings.
The odds were stacked in their favor along. DeKeyser, who grew up in suburban Detroit, attended a Red Wings’ prospect camp last fall. His former coach at Western Michigan, Jeff Blashill, currently mans the bench for Detroit’s AHL farm club in Grand Rapids. DeKeyser even played youth hockey with the son of Wings’ assistant GM Jim Nill.
Outside of covering his body in Red Wings tattoos, this one was pretty much telegraphed from the start.
Even without the element of surprise, this was a great get for Detroit.
Some will tell you that the 23-year-old defender’s game is so advanced that he could step into the lineup tomorrow. I wouldn’t go that far, especially given the team’s historic adherence to a slow-roast approach, but he won’t look out of place if they give him the eye before the end of the season.
At 6′-3″, 205 pounds, DeKeyser is big, strong and highly mobile. “He’s the complete package,” one scout told SI.com. “He moves really well for a big guy. His positioning is solid. He plays the body. He moves the puck well. He can play in any situation. He won’t be a big scorer, but he has the offensive instincts to work a power play.”
“Elite hockey sense,” offered another scout. “He knows where to be and what to do when he gets there. And he keeps the mistakes to a minimum…he plays a really sound, reliable game.”
“A good kid…a character kid,” said another. “Great work ethic. He’s a player you can send over the boards for the next 10 years and never give it a second thought.”
He won’t be a superstar, they say, but DeKeyser could be a very solid second-pairing guy. And for a team like Detroit that’s rebuilding its blueline, adding an asset like that for the cost of a contract is a huge win.