The Detroit Red Wings came into the season facing the tall task of replacing quite possibly the greatest defenseman in the history of the game. While they haven’t quite found a way to replace what Nick Lidstrom brought to the ice, they’ve managed to piece together a pretty decent defensive corps.
The improvements to their blue line have really taken a leap with the addition of Danny DeKeyser. After his college season ended, the Red Wings added DeKeyser out of Western Michigan on a two-year contract. Since making his debut early in April, he hasn’t relinquished his spot in the lineup.
DeKeyser played in 11 games for the Red Wings during the regular season, finishing with a point (one assists) and a plus-4 rating. He recorded nine hits and blocked nine shots. Of the 11 games in which DeKeyser was in the lineup for the Red Wings, Detroit lost just two in regulation.
In the action he saw towards the end of the season, the Red Wings made it pretty clear that they didn’t have a problem handing the reigns over to him on the blue line. He averaged over 18 minutes of ice time per game, including almost two minutes of shorthanded time.
Long-term, DeKeyser projects as an excellent two-way defenseman. He has good size and is excellent in his own zone, though his play in the offensive end still needs to develop a bit. Which is probably why he’s only played about 30 seconds a game with the man advantage.
In the first game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, DeKeyser played over 19 minutes. It’s pretty clear that this player was a great fit for this team and has had a nearly flawless transition into the lineup. He’s been a major part of why their defensive unit has improved a great deal down the stretch.