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DeKeyser holds out hope for return

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

While the odds are against it, rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser still believes he might return to the playoffs from a fractured thumb. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – With each Red Wings’ playoff win, Danny DeKeyser’s hopes rise.

“As long as they keep winning it gives me a better chance for a return with every win they get,” said DeKeyser, who suffered a fractured right thumb in Game 2 of the Anaheim series. “Hopefully I'll get a chance to play in a playoff game again.”

Moments after he saw in a hard cast on May 2, following the Game 2 overtime win at Anaheim, Wings coach Mike Babcock declared DeKeyser’s season done. Five days later, the 23-year-old undrafted free agent had surgery to stabilize the broken bone and promote healing. A metal plate and four screws were inserted over the bone break.

“It’s healing pretty good,” DeKeyser said. “There’s a plate and screws in there, so it’s pretty sore still. The surgery is helping it heal quicker than if I didn’t have it.”

DeKeyser has been skating during practice, though he isn’t participating in on-ice drills, as he’s now wearing a splint to protect his right hand.

“They kind of told me it would be 6-to-8 weeks,” he said. “That would put me out until the end of June. I didn't know if that was going to be the case or not. I tried to stay in shape, keep working hard. I wasn't doing a whole lot of skating a week or two ago. Now I'm on the ice every day, so I'm getting my lungs back and my skating legs back. So I think that's a benefit for me right now.”

The last possible date of the Stanley Cup finals is June 28, but that isn’t stopping the Detroit native from hoping to make a much earlier return to the lineup, perhaps as soon as the Western Conference finals should the Red Wings get past the Chicago Blackhawks. Detroit currently leads the best-of-seven series two games to one.

“I'm not ruling that out,” said DeKeyser, about possibly making it back for the third round of the playoffs. “As it is right now, I'm not ready to do it, but if I keep progressing like I am then I think I might have a chance to do that. I can't say for sure yet. I just need to see how it is in another week or two.”

Following his NHL debut on April 5 in Colorado, DeKeyser drew rave reviews from the Red Wings’ coaching staff for his swift skating, along with his ability to efficiently move the puck out of the defensive zone. He produced one assist and a plus-4 rating in 11 games. He played in two playoff games before suffering the fracture in a collision with the Ducks’ Kyle Palmieri.

While nobody in the organization wants to jeopardize the young defenseman’s future, but the young do heal fast.

“I think they were planning on me to be out until early July,” DeKeyser said. “Nobody was really sure on that.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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