In mid-July, Jordan Oesterle’s guests at his wedding included his former teammate at Western Michigan University, Danny DeKeyser. Now they’re teammates again — with the Detroit Red Wings.
General manager Steve Yzerman made Oesterle’s dream of playing for his hometown team come true Wednesday, signing the left-shot defenseman to a two-year contract. Oesterle almost didn’t sleep the night before, so anxious was he that it would really happen, and he could officially share the welcome news with his family in Dearborn Heights.
COOL-HAND LUKE: Glendening leaves Wings for Dallas Stars
PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM: Wings extend Sam Gagner. Here’s why
“It’s something I dreamed about since I was a little kid,” Oesterle said. “We had season tickets to Joe Louis. I feel there’s minutes for me to be able to grab. They have a lot of very skilled, young defensemen and then some older guys that kind of are teaching them the ways, and I’m kind of right in the middle gap. So I think it’s a great place for me to join and hopefully grab a role and grow with it.”
Oesterle, 29, has 65 points and a minus-37 rating in 252 career games. He went undrafted out of WMU, where he was teammates with DeKeyser from 2011-13 and won a CCHA championship in 2012. Oesterle debuted in the NHL in 2014-15 with the Edmonton Oilers, where he played 25 games over three seasons. He appeared in 55 games with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2017-18, then joined the Coyotes. His best offensive year came in 2018-19, when he had six goals and 20 points in 71 games with Arizona.
Oesterle got married July 16, and the prospect of where he might play next came up when he chatted with DeKeyser.
“We talked about it being a possibility, and luckily it worked out,” Oesterle said. He didn’t let his parents know until it was official. “I kept it on the backburner, didn’t let them know until it came true. They were very pleased and excited to have my wife and I come back home.”
How Oesterle will fit into the defense corps will be determined at training camp. He described himself as a well-rounded two-way defenseman.
“There’s been years where I’ve put up some good points and then there’s been years where it didn’t go my way. I’ve really grown a lot defensively over my three years in Arizona, and getting out of the defensive zone and being that fourth man up the ice and creating an extra attack.”
With the re-signing of veteran Marc Staal and the trade acquisition of Nick Leddy, those two top the depth chart on the left side, with Moritz Seider and Filip Hronek topping the right-side defense. Oesterle could potentially pair with Troy Stecher. DeKeyser appeared in 47 games last season, but hasn’t been as effective since back surgery in December 2019.
MORE ON THE DEFENSE: Marc Staal eyed free agency. Then Yzerman called
Oesterle’s favorite player growing up was Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. A lingering memory dates to the Stanley Cup Final in 2009, when fans at Joe Louis Arena had to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrate.
“I remember very vividly my dad took me to one of the first series games,” Oesterle said. “Then he decided to take my brother, who never played hockey, to the game when Pittsburgh won it in Detroit.
“I still don’t let him live that down to this day.”
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.