DETROIT – With two days to spare, the Red Wings and defenseman Danny DeKeyser avoided salary arbitration Tuesday when they agreed to a new contract worth $30 million.
The six-year deal means DeKeyser will be under contract with his hometown team through the 2021-22 season.
An arbitration hearing was scheduled for the 26-year-old Detroit native and the team this Thursday in Toronto.
For DeKeyser, who graduated from De La Salle Collegiate High School in suburban Warren and attended Western Michigan University, the new contract represents security for him and his fiancée Melissa Beurmann, who plan to get married this September.
“It’s nice to get this done and just to know that I’ll be around for awhile,” DeKeyser said. “For me and my fiancée – she’s also from Michigan – it’s just a good spot for us to be in with family all around the state and that kind of thing. It’s a big event coming up for us, so it’s really cool how this has worked out before the wedding, to get that done and be comfortable and not have to worry about it.
“I don’t want to go anywhere else and I was pretty happy that we were able to work with Kenny (Holland) and get a deal done. So I’m just excited about it.”
As the hearing drew near, DeKeyser said he felt a deal could get struck prior to both sides having to travel to Toronto.
“It was kind of up in the air for a little bit,” said DeKeyser, who filed for arbitration on July 5. “I would say the last week or so is when I kind of figured out that it wasn’t gonna be going to arbitration. As time was kind of winding down toward that date I wasn’t really too concerned about it actually going there.”
Since 2013-14, his first full NHL season, DeKeyser has been one of the team’s most consistent defensemen, leading the team with a plus-23 cumulative rating. His 223 games played during that time is tied for second most on the team with Justin Abdelkader and Niklas Kronwall.
Since signing with the Red Wings as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2013, DeKeyser has accumulated 14 goals and 61 assists in 234 regular-season games.
“Basically,” he said, “my game, I just try to move the puck well, play solid defensively, chip in some points or goals here or there when I can, and just try to be a good team player and do things that help the team win.”
The Red Wings didn’t use him much on the power play last season, but two years ago DeKeyser showed an offensive acumen on special teams when he collected 31 points with an increased role on the power play.
“This year my point total was down, I had 20 points, but led the D in goals, I had eight goals so I thought that was a pretty good accomplishment,” DeKeyser said. “I didn’t have any power play time this past year so sometimes it’s hard to pick up those extra points when you’re not playing on the power play. Whether I’m on that or not it doesn’t matter I’m just going to do my role, five on five and penalty kill and if I do get a chance on the power play I’m comfortable playing that as well. I don’t know if I’ll get to 40 or 45 points without playing the power play, but it’s a possibility that’s for sure.”
DeKeyser is looking forward to training camp and working with new assistant coach Doug Houda, who was added to the Red Wings’ coaching staff in May.
Houda, who was drafted by Detroit in 1984, has a proven track record of developing young defensemen. He will work with the Wings’ defense and penalty kill units, replacing Tony Granato, who became the new head coach at the University of Wisconsin.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about him,” DeKeyser said of Houda. “I know his history a little bit. I talked to a few guys that played for him and have had nothing but good words or good things to say about him and how he develops players and how he helps guys out.
“For us it’s tough losing Tony Granato, he was a great coach here, but he got a good opportunity where he went. I’m excited to be working with Doug. I think it’ll be a good partnership.”
The Wings have one piece of roster business remaining this week as it would appear they will have a hearing to decide Petr Mrazek’s immediate future. The team filed for arbitration with the 24-year-old Czech goalie on July 6. That hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in Toronto.