Red Wings: It’s a Make or Break Year for DeKeyser

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Danny DeKeyser enters 2021-22 with a shot to rebound from a season affected by a nagging injury.  With just one year left on contract with the Detroit Red Wings, his performance this year will determine his future with the organization.

Rebounding From Injury

Last season was DeKeyser’s first back from his back injury and the subsequent surgery he undertook in late 2019. The veteran defenseman seemed slower and a bit rusty on the ice; the performance was enough to land DeKeyser on waivers in February.

Jeff Blashill on DeKeyser after the waiver move:

“He’s recovering from a major back surgery that can take up to two years.

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.”

Via Helene St. James and the Detroit Free Press.

Back injuries in hockey can be nearly impossible to overcome (just ask Henrik Zetterberg), especially for a player in his thirties. DeKeyser must take some major steps this year to secure a spot on the roster.

Rookies Knocking on the Door

The Red Wing’s defensive pool is not only good, it’s one of the best in the league. If DeKeyser has a future role with the team, it’s as a guiding veteran presence.

However, after the trade for defenseman Nick Leddy, carving out a role on the roster just got a bit harder. It was thought DeKeyser could fight for a roster spot based on the lack of strength on the left side of the ice – but Leddy has just made that significantly more difficult. But the only left shots beside DeKeyser (On the current roster) are Leddy, Marc Staal and Jordan Oesterle; he could still find a spot on this year’s team.

But even a solid performance might not save DeKeyser. Prospects in the pipeline could very well push themselves onto the main roster – quickly; especially those playing in Grand Rapids this season. Jared McIsaac, Albert Johansson, Donavan Sebrango and Eemil Viro are all left shots that are a breakout season away from snatching a roster spot.

The last few years have been unfortunate for DeKeyser. An injury seems to be wrapping up his time in Detroit prematurely. However, there is a glimmer of hope this year; even if he’s not re-signed, it would be great for fans to see the Detroit native and Red Wings lifer finish out his time in the winged wheel on a high note.

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