Veteran defenseman Danny DeKeyser has cleared waivers for the Detroit Red Wings. DeKeyser was placed on waivers on Sunday in what head coach Jeff Blashill called a roster management move. The Red Wings have made many moves to send players to the “taxi squad” in this pandemic altered 2021 NHL season.
DeKeyser has played in 10 games so far this season. During these 10 games, the 30-year-old scored one goal against the Dallas Stars. Christian Djoos has been paired with Jonathon Merrill in the absence of DeKeyser as he continues to recover from back surgery in December of 2019. DeKeyser said that he felt good going into training camp and looked forward to the season after the team’s first practice in January.
“He’s recovering from a major back surgery that can take up to two years,” Coach Blashill said. “We’re about a year and some out. The good thing for us is, he’s making progress. Will he ever have the exact same power that he had? Most guys that have major surgery probably are never quite to that. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a really effective player, still. But it’s just the reality of what happens when you have major surgery.”
DeKeyser has played 451 games in his NHL career, all with the Red Wings. He was an undrafted free agent out of Western Michigan University. DeKeyser has scored 30 goals and added 94 assists for 124 points in his NHL career.
It is not known whether or not Danny DeKeyser will remain on the team after his contract expires in a year and a half. His salary cap hit is $5 million over the remainder of this contract. Health will play a role in whether or not the team brings him back once his contract is up.
This was the reason that Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman brought in several defensemen free agents this offseason. From Troy Stecher to Marc Staal, the defensive corps needed to change to make sure that the team did not lose games in a blowout as they did during the 2019-2020 season. These moves were made to make the team more “competitive.”
Filip Hronek is a young defenseman that the Red Wings hope will replace the role that Danny DeKeyser plays on the current Red Wings roster. He was drafted 53rd overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft out of Hradec Kralove, in the Czech Republic. Hronek has yet to score a goal during the 2021 NHL season. He has nine assists, though.
For a team that won only 17 games in the 2019-2020 season, this was not a particularly difficult bar to clear. The team was eliminated from the playoff race before Thanksgiving in 2020. This was unheard-of in an NHL that likes to tout the fact that there is parity and any team can win on any night. Paul McPherson brought this up when he recapped the 2019-2020 season.
Staal has not been good for the Red Wings after being traded to the Red Wings from the New York Rangers in exchange for future considerations. This was clearly a salary cap dump for the Rangers. He simply could not crack the Rangers roster given that they needed to re-sign many restricted free agents such as Anthony DeAngelo and Brendan Lemieux. Staal has scored two goals and added two assists in 16 games played for the Red Wings this season.
What’s Next for Danny DeKeyser?
Danny DeKeyser’s next best hope is that the Red Wings assign him to Grand Rapids, the team’s American Hockey League affiliate. This will allow DeKeyser to try to come back to full health and potentially play for the team again. If not, the 30-year-old DeKeyser has had a great career for an undrafted free agent. He certainly lived the dream playing for his “home town” team.
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