DETROIT – One of the most consistent players all season long, defenseman Danny DeKeyser impressed on the blue line in 2014-15 and set career-high numbers in his second full season with the Red Wings.
Skating on the second defensive pair, DeKeyser developed into a reliable cornerstone appearing in all but two regular-season games. His presence in the lineup brought a tremendous source of consistency in a young defensive corps.
The 25-year-old has spent much of the previous two seasons paired with veteran defenseman Kyle Quincey. Together, the two finished second and third on the team, as DeKeyser posted a single-season career-high plus-11 rating and Quincey posted a plus-10 rating.
“The biggest thing (for DeKeyser) is just kinda getting his reps in,” Quincey said. “He came very green and obviously never went to the American League, so that’s a tough transition going right from the NCAA to pro, but at the same time he’s been pretty solid right from day one. He’s only gonna get better and better.”
A highly sought after prospect at Western Michigan University, DeKeyser signed as an undrafted free agent in 2013 following the conclusion of his junior season. In the span of a few short weeks, he made the jump from the college hockey ranks to Detroit and the NHL, completely bypassing a stint in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Making the transition from NCAA to the NHL is a major adjustment that doesn’t come easily.
“Well you go to the American League, it’s professional and you get the grind,” Quincey said. “You’re going from 40 games to 82, (laughs) that’s a big difference. That’s two a week to sometimes four, that’s a big transition and it’s a grind.”
DeKeyser also reached new highs in assists (29), points (31) and recorded his first-career game-winning goal on Nov. 30, when the Wings defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-3 at Joe Louis Arena.
Becoming a promising source of offense on the blue line, DeKeyser has rounded out into an efficient defenseman capable of contributing in all three zones of the ice.
“It’s always a positive, he’s good at getting pucks through and he’s good at making the first pass,” Quincey said. “Those points will come, so when you’re on the power play, that’s kinda how you get your points. You get the pucks to forwards as best you can and if you get a chance, you shoot the puck.”
The Detroit native finished second to only Niklas Kronwall among Wings players in ice time, averaging 20:55 per game and contributed on both the power play and penalty kill this season. Still one of the younger guys on the team, DeKeyser has a bright future after posting strong numbers in his second full season in a Wings jersey.
“DK is one of those guys, ever since he came into the league he just has that edge about him,” Kronwall said. “He just does it right every game. Regardless of the situation, he seems to have a solution for it. He’s been playing great for us … he’s maybe been our most consistent guy back there. Hopefully he just keeps going like he has.”