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By the Numbers: Danny DeKeyser

Ankle injury hampered first half of defenseman's season

by Arthur J. Regner @ArthurJRegner / DetroitRedWings.com

By the Numbers will highlight the Red Wings' on-ice accomplishments in the 2017-18 season. Each week during the offseason, By the Numbers will profile a different player on the team, focusing on his statistical highs. This week we focus on defenseman Danny DeKeyser.

Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser was looking forward to starting the 2017-18 season with a clean slate.

The 6-foot-3, 192-pound Detroit native was determined to rebound after posting just 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 82 games during the 2016-17 campaign. That included being minus-22, the only time he has ever been a minus player during his Red Wings career.

However, three games into the season, DeKeyser suffered an ankle injury against the Stars in Dallas.

Originally it was believed to be not too serious and the timeline for his return was day-to-day, but his recovery was alarmingly slow.

Upon further examination, DeKeyser discovered he had a broken bone in his ankle and he was placed on long-term injured reserve.

DeKeyser ended up missing 17 games and when he returned to the lineup, he admitted the ankle injury and layoff had had a negative effect on his game.

It took him several weeks to feel right but eventually, DeKeyser's play started to turn around.

Signed as an unrestricted free agent out of Western Michigan in March 2013, DeKeyser had an immediate impact on stabilizing Detroit's blue line.

Former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told reporters if the Wings hadn't landed DeKeyser in free agency, Detroit would not have made the 2013 Playoffs.

With Babcock firmly in his corner, DeKeyser faced lofty expectations.

Similar to what teammate Jonathan Ericsson experienced, their early career success deemed them both as saviors of Detroit's defensive corps, but like Ericsson, DeKeyser's play leveled off.

When DeKeyser fell short of cementing himself as an elite-level defenseman, his critics were all over the him and they became incensed when the Wings signed him to a six-year, $30 million contract in July 2016.

With a cap hit of $5 million per season through 2021-22, DeKeyser will be patrolling the Wings blue line for several more seasons.

Since Detroit's blue line is in flux, DeKeyser has been thrust into the role of being a top-pair defenseman, which has exposed flaws in his game.

Based on how he played in the second half of last season, he can still be a steady presence on the Wings blue line, helping his team more than hurting them in most games.

DeKeyser may never live up to the early hype which surrounded his career, but he understands his game and where it fits into the Red Wings system - steady not spectacular.

65 - Total games DeKeyser played, which was the second time he played 65 games in a season. In 2013-14, his first full season with the Wings, he also played 65 games.

6 - His six goals last season were the second most he scored in a season with the Red Wings. His career high is eight goals, accomplished in 2015-16 . DeKeyser's six assists were the lowest single-season total of his Detroit career, excluding the 11 games he played after the Wings signed him in March 2013. He notched one assist in those 11 games. His career best in assists is 29, achieved in 2014-15.

12 - In back-to-back seasons (2016-17 and 2017-18), he accumulated 12 total points for the year, which is his career low. DeKeyser's 31 total points in 2014-15 is his career best for one season.

+2 - After missing 17 games with a broken bone in his ankle, DeKeyser returned to the Wings lineup on November 19 against Colorado at Little Caesars Arena. He was minus-1 in Detroit's 4-3 overtime loss. In his first 10 games after he returned from his injury, he was minus-11. In the remaining 51 games, DeKeyser was a minus player 10 times, and in his last 10 games of the year, he was an even or plus player. His plus-2 for the season was the third best on the Wings. Joe Hicketts was first at plus-5 and Darren Helm was second at plus-3.

125 - DeKeyser's 125 blocked shots tied him for most on the Wings with fellow defenseman Trevor Daley. His career high in blocked shots is 170, achieved in 82 games during the 2016-17 season.

20:19 - His total ice time of 20:19 per game ranked third on the Red Wings. Mike Green led the Wings in ice time at 22:04, with Daley second at 20:41. DeKeyser's career average ice time is 21:16.

350 - On February 3 in Florida against the Panthers, DeKeyser played in his 350th NHL game. In the Wings' 3-2 loss, he scored both Detroit goals, he was even, his total ice time was 19:08 and he was named second star of the game. It was the first time in his NHL career that he scored two goals in a game. In 381 games with the Wings, DeKeyser has 99 points (24 goals, 75 assists), 179 penalty minutes and is plus-7.

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