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DeKeyser awaits his NHL debut

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Red Wings defenseman and Detroit native Danny DeKeyser hopes to make his NHL debut sooner than later. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

GLENDALE, Ariz. – For Danny DeKeyser, his family and friends – like the Detroit media – are sounding like a broken record.

Since the 22-year-old Detroit native signed a rookie free agent contract with the Red Wings last Saturday, everyone he knows, and doesn’t know for that matter, pesters him daily about when he’ll make his NHL debut with the Red Wings.

“My family asks me every day, so it’s the same thing I tell you guys, whenever my name’s up there is when I’ll be in,” DeKeyser said Thursday morning at Arena.

Coach Mike Babcock has hinted this week that he would like to get a look at the 6-foot-3, 190-pound defenseman, who spent the past three seasons at Western Michigan University and became the crown jewel of the undrafted free agent pool last month.

“It's interesting with Danny here, we have so few practices to get him up to speed to what we want,” Babcock said. “We sure like what we see, we just got to have enough courage to fire him in and get on with it. Originally it was going to be today, it's not.”

When DeKeyser gets is time is a fine line, Babcock said.

“We'll figure it out,” the Wings’ coach said. “In the meantime he'll get an opportunity to practice every day with good NHL players and when he gets a chance he'll be in.”

DeKeyser hasn’t looked out of place either. He’s a smooth skating big man, who is quickly assimilating to his new surroundings.

“All the guys here have been really good,” he said. “I was a little nervous the first day when I stepped into the locker room, but everyone has made me feel really comfortable so it’s a good thing.”

But DeKeyser is aware of the fine line of throwing him into a game in the final four weeks of the regular-season as the Red Wings continue to battle for a Western Conference playoff spot.

“I definitely understand it’s tough. Just a few points separate everybody,” he said. “The standings change every night. It’s a heated race in both conferences, so it’s a tough situation and I understand that.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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