Red Wings Player Grades: Assessing Detroit’s Veterans

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - MAY 01: Danny DeKeyser #65 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Little Caesars Arena on May 01, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - MAY 01: Danny DeKeyser #65 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Little Caesars Arena on May 01, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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The Red Wings were one of the oldest teams in the NHL this year. As the prospects slowly churn through the pipeline, Steve Yzerman has filled the current roster with older NHL veterans to guide the process. Let’s take a look at how a few of those vets turned out this year.

Danny DeKeyser

2021 Statline

Games Played: 47

Goals: 4

Assists: 8

+/-: 3

Preseason Projection

Veteran Defenseman Depth

2021 Season in a Nutshell

The road to a 2021 was a rocky one for Danny DeKeyeser. His season was cut short due to major back pain in October last year. The injury culminated in a major back surgery in December, and the offseason was dedicated to rehabilitation.

The 2020-21 season was nearly as inconsistent as the offseason for DeKeyser. Although he started with the team in January, it was clear he was not 100 percent. He ended up missing a nine game stretch in February trying to get back to full strength. The staff eased him back into the lineup, giving the veteran less than fifteen minutes a night. As 2021 progressed, DeKeyser slowly built up his minutes per night (He ended the season with an average of 18:06 time on ice), and he slowly improved his play.

DeKeyser was never one of Detroit’s best defensemen. Other teams in the league agreed, as he cleared waivers in mid February. He finished with a 43.6% CF% and suffered more than a few defensive lapses (A few of those ended in opposing goals). However, DeKeyser truly did improve as the season progressed. He became one of the few defensemen on the team that could activate any sort of offense on the blue line: he led Detroit’s defensemen in goals and finished with the second most points of the Red Wing’s defense.

They Said It

"“When Danny is healthy, he’s one of our best defensemen. But he’s not 100% right now.”"

-Jeff Blashll via the Detroit News

Final Grade

D. DeKeyser had a surprising amount of offense this season, but let’s be honest: a few goals aren’t going to make up for the amount of defensive failures he had throughout the season. The major back injury has obviously affected speed and strength. DeKeyser just isn’t the same defensemen he was a few years ago. The Red Wing’s veteran certainly deserves credit for his recovery this year; his rehabilitation continued even as the season continued. Subjectively, I’d like to get DeKeyser a better grade considering the circumstances, but objectively, he was just not up to par this year, surpassed by the likes of Troy Stecher, Patrik Nemeth, Jon Merrill and even Gustav Lindstrom late in the season.. Defenseman. Detroit Red Wings. DANNY DEKEYSER