The Detroit Red Wings announced on March 29 that they signed highly coveted college free-agent defenseman Danny DeKeyser to a two-year deal.
OFFICIAL: Wings agree to terms on a 2-year deal with free agent defenseman Dan DeKeyser, who will skate with the team tomorrow at practice.— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) March 29, 2013
At 6'3", DeKeyser is a big body who is capable of being a top-two defenseman in the NHL. DeKeyser has a terrific shot from the point on the power play, and he is also very strong on his outlet passes from his own end.
Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill spoke with MLive.com's Brendan Savage on March 29 about the importance of signing DeKeyser to a deal and the young defense prospects the Red Wings have.
DeKeyser, an unrestricted free agent out of Western Michigan, agreed to contract terms Friday and will join a defensive unit of the future that already includes promising rookies Brendan Smith and Brian Lashoff and well as prospects Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul, who will both turn pro next season.
"That's one of the things that's exciting for us," said Jim Nill, the Red Wings assistant general manager. "We've got kind of a young corps that's growing up together. That's how you become a really good team.
"You go back over the years when there was (Nicklas) Lidstrom, (Sergei) Fedorov, (Steve) Yzerman, all these young kids coming together. That's how you build championship teams. We're excited about the opportunity of these guys coming together."
Savage also reported that Nill said the signing of DeKeyser won't affect the Red Wings' agenda regarding the trade deadline on April 3.
Nill said the Red Wings haven't discussed whose spot DeKeyser will take if he's added to the roster. He said that will depend on their injury situation. Nill also said landing DeKeyser won't have an impact on how active the Red Wings are before next week's trade deadline.
According to the Red Wings (via Savage), DeKeyser will remain with the Red Wings for the rest of this season.
But he won't be going to Grand Rapids until at least next season as Nill and general manager Ken Holland both said he'll stay with the Red Wings for the remainder of this season.
DeKeyser will join the Red Wings for practice Saturday but won't play Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks or Monday vs. Colorado, according to Holland, who added that when – or if – DeKeyser finally plays in a game this season will be up to coach Mike Babcock.
On March 18, SI.com's Allan Muir asked a Western Conference scout about DeKeyser, and the scout gave a positive report:
The 6'3", 198-pound junior is regarded as the pick of the litter this spring. He’s the total package. He put on some muscle this year, but he projects out to as a stronger player still. He’s got quick feet…great acceleration. Classic mobile defenseman. And he plays it smart. He’ll kill penalties, he’ll play late in close games. Just a very reliable kid.
DeKeyser also earns high marks for his offensive game. He’s great in transition and can wire it from the point. His is not a heavy shot, but he’s very accurate.
That being said, DeKeyser puts the Red Wings in a position of strength where they don't need to reach for a defensive player and possibly give up key younger players.
Now with DeKeyser in the fold, the Red Wings could possibly try to trade defenseman Ian White for a draft pick. Either way, the Red Wings opened options up this evening that they didn't have earlier in the day.
While DeKeyser has yet to play in an NHL game, he has already helped out his hometown Red Wings by choosing them over several other NHL teams.
Now the focus will shift to whether or not DeKeyser can help the Red Wings during the remainder of the season in their push toward the playoffs.