Embed from Getty Images Missing 27 of the first 47 games with two separate hand injuries that required surgery, Detroit Red Wings defensemen Danny DeKeyser played in the fewest games of his six full NHL seasons. His play improved when he returned. The the Red Wings need him to stay consistent.
In the 2018-19 NHL season, DeKeyser averaged 1.8 blocked shots per game, second on team and first among defensemen. He also led the team in average ice time 21:58 and averaged 2:31 on penalty kill, third on team among defensemen. DeKeyser’s plus-minus rating was minus-5.
DeKeyser showed improvement and more consistency during an injury-plagued season that cost him a total of 30 games. His skating and mobility enabled him to move the puck out of his zone more efficiently and quicker than he had the previous three years. Added strength allowed him to win more puck battles. Danny DeKeyser had his best season since 2014-15, but he still was not as strong as he was his first two full NHL seasons.
The question that needs to be asked is, was last season as good as DeKeyser can get at this point of his career or can he return to the form he played at during his first two NHL seasons?
DeKeyser showed growth in terms of consistently defending last season. Danny has been good at different times in his career. Last season DeKeyser looked stronger, in the physical battles along the boards. He knocked people around way more. Some believe he is becoming an elite defender in the league, what was once envisioned for him and now believe he is becoming.
This season the Red Wings are hopeful Danny DeKeyser picks up where he left off last season. He figures to be paired with Mike Green or Filip Hronek. Whoever he is not paired with on the top line will slide to the second line defense with Patrik Nemeth.
Those four defensive players should make up Detroit’s top four on defense.