Danny DeKeyser is ready to return, which is good news for the Detroit Red Wings given they have just lost one defenseman to injury and another to COVID-19 protocol.
The Wings carry a five-game winning streak into Tuesday’s game against the Nashville Predators, which will be DeKeyser’s first appearance since he went into COVID-19 protocol on Thanksgiving Eve. (Not fun: Eating turkey and trimmings all alone.) Marc Staal (protocol) and Lindstrom (lower body) are unavailable, though coach Jeff Blashill did not rule them out beyond Tuesday. Dan Renouf earned a second call-up of the season to bolster the blueline.
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“We feel a little bit fortunate that Staalsie’s and DK’s protocol situations were staggered, so that Staalsie goes out and DK comes in,” Blashill said Monday. “Depth is critical. It gets tested as you go through a season and certainly with COVID, it gets tested even more.”
Blashill said the Wings are taking “enhanced measures” in light of DeKeyser, Staal and Tyler Bertuzzi all testing positive. Bertuzzi began a 10-day stay Dec. 1.
It was DeKeyser’s second go-around with the virus, after spending the holiday in a separate room from his family at their house, when he didn’t show any symptoms after 48 hours he ventured into the living room.
“It was kind of brutal timing, the day before Thanksgiving, so I didn’t really get to do anything for that, although I did get a little bit of turkey,” DeKeyser said. “I was in my room staying away from my wife and kids, and then when I was asymptomatic, I threw a mask on and gloves and stayed about 25 feet away from my family members at all times and ate at a table by myself.”
It was the latest trial for DeKeyser, who two years ago underwent major back surgery. His future with the organization coming into last season was unclear, and he survived being placed on waivers to play 47 games. He came into this season feeling strong and healthy, and has averaged around 20 minutes in 19 games, serving as a good veteran presence opposite Seider.
“Danny is a guy who is really smart, as is Moritz,” Blashill said. “Danny is not afraid to get on a rush but he’s also not afraid to stay back and let Moritz get on a rush, and I think the more Moritz is playing here, the more he’s in attack mode, and so you’ve got to make sure that the other guy is smart enough to read that and make sure he’s back, and certainly Danny is that.”
DeKeyser, 31, is in the last year of his contract. He said he hasn’t thought about his future beyond “trying to enjoy this season.” He, Staal and Nick Leddy comprise the veterans on the defense corps and all are on expiring contracts. It is likely general manager Steve Yzerman will keep at least one of them, which would still leave room for 2021 first-round pick Simon Edvinsson to earn a spot next season. Leddy, 30, projects to have value as a trade chip at the deadline. Staal, 34, was brought in by Yzerman and already re-signed once. He and DeKeyser play similar games, and on a one-year deal in the $1.5 million range, either could make sense.
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