The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/29/13 at 03:31 PM ET
Updated 18x at 7:30 with comments from Holland and Jim Nill: I wrote the Red Wings-Sharks wrap-up from 1-5. Finally got to sleep at 6:30. Woke up around 9. Have been enjoing the watch for Danny DeKeyser since then (and posting the Wings beat writers' stories about Filppula and Colaiacovo, NHL.com's Hedger's interviews with Holland and Bill Roose's chat with Michael Shanks ahead of Gordie Howe's 85th birthday celebration on Sunday), and have been watching Red Bird III's flight path on Flightaware for such a long time that I'm practically ready to make airplane noises.
TSN's Darren Dreger posited this at 4:23 PM...
Then Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos offered this...
Here's Seravalli's blog entry:
The Flyers were seriously interested in adding DeKeyser. Chairman Ed Snider was among the Flyers’ brass to personally pitch Philadelphia to the Detroit native on Wednesday at an hour-long meeting in Toronto. The last free agent Snider personally persued was goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov in 2011.
As far as entry-level contracts go, almost every team in the DeKeyser sweeptstakes was on an even playing field, since there is a maximum salary of $925,000. Performance-based bonuses could have pushed the figure even higher than that.
DeKeyser, 23, was publicly linked to Detroit, Edmonton, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Nashville and many others. Nearly all 30 teams made some kind of inquiry to Newport Sports Group agent Don Meehan about his client. DeKeyser is a mature, 6-foot-3 agile puck mover.
The Flyers had been pursuing DeKeyser since at least last spring, when he flirted with a decision of possibly leaving school after only two seasons. Even in a down season, when the Flyers likely offered an immediate spot in their battered NHL lineup, it wasn’t enough to sway DeKeyser away from the Wings.
Highly coveted college free agent defenseman Danny DeKeyser has signed with the Detroit Red Wings, according to a report by John Shannon of Sportsnet.
Detroit was the rumored favorite to land DeKeyser since the process began and it appears the Michigan native decided to stay close to home. Almost every NHL team had interest in DeKeyser, with NHL general managers, head coaches and in some cases owners pitching the 23-year-old blueliner this week near Toronto.
DeKeyser had an opportunity to sign last season as a free agent, but chose to stay in school and develop. It proved to be a good decision as interest was even higher this year to acquire the 6-3, 198-pound rearguard.
It is believed he will be able to slot into Detroit's NHL lineup immediately and contribute.
More to come.
Here's the Sporting News's Sean Gentile's take...
Defenseman Dan DeKeyser, the best available college free agent and a Michigan native, agreed to terms with the Red Wings on Friday, according to multiple reports.
DeKeyser, 23, immediately becomes one of the Red Wings' very best prospects, particularly on defense. Detroit has been forced to play several fringe NHL defensemen this season and has only Brendan Smith projected as a potential top-four player.
DeKeyser just finished his career at Western Michigan and chose the Red Wings over several teams including the Tampa Bay Lightning and Anaheim Ducks. Several scouting reports say he is ready to contribute immediately at the NHL level.
“He’s the total package,” a Western Conference scout recently told Sports Illustrated. “He put on some muscle this year, but he projects out to as a stronger player still. He’s got quick feet … great acceleration. Classic mobile defenseman. And he plays it smart. He’ll kill penalties, he’ll play late in close games. Just a very reliable kid.”
The Nashville Predators put on a full-court press for DeKeyser, who was always believed to favor the Red Wings.
“He’s 6-foot-3, he’s got great mobility, and he’s got a very nice defensive presence,” Nashville assistant general manager Paul Fenton told The Tennessean. “He uses his size, his reach, his mobility to fend guys off. He’s a guy that’s going to stop you defensively and he can make a first pass, so he’s the kind of defenseman that we are attracted to here.”
And here's Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples' take:
It appears as one of the most prized college free agents is off the market, and that he’s staying in Michigan.
Danny DeKeyser, a highly-touted free agent defenseman out of Western Michigan, has signed with the Detroit Red Wings, according to a tweet from TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
DeKeyser, a Clay Township, Mich., native, will forego his senior season with the Broncos to advance to the pro ranks.
The anchor of the Broncos’ back-end took home Best Defensive Defenseman honors for the second straight season at the CCHA Awards show on March 22. DeKeyser edged out Bowling Green’s Bobby Shea and Miami’s Steven Spinell to earn the honor in back-to-back seasons. The 6-foot-3 junior defenseman recorded 12 points in only 27 games this season from the back-end due to injury, but he was also named to the CCHA All-Conference First Team.
DeKeyser finishes his CCHA career having scored 12 goals and 37 assists for 49 points with the Broncos. He played to a career +23 over 118 games, while racking up 107 penalty minutes.
Prior to his collegiate career, DeKeyser played a year with the Trail Smoke Eaters of the BCHL, then a year with the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL. He is a graduate of De La Salle High School.
Update #2: From MLive's Brendan Savage:
He attended one of the Red Wings' prospects camps in Traverse City and was coached for one season at WMU by Jeff Blashill, a former Detroit assistant who is now the head coach of Detroit's top farm club in Grand Rapids. He also played youth hockey with Trevor Nill, son of Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill.
Jim Nill has described DeKeyser as "a character player ... great size, range, moves the puck well, a very good skater for a big man ... solid all-around defensively ... knows the game well, plays within his limitations ... hard to beat one-on-one because of his range, his reach and his skating ability.''
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland met with DeKeyser's representatives Wednesday in Toronto and DeKeyser said he'd make a decision by today after weighing all the offers.
Toronto, Anaheim, St. Louis, Edmtonton, Philadelphia, Ottawa and Nashville are believed to be the other teams that were in the running for DeKeyser's services.
In three seasons with WMU, DeKeyser appeared in 118 games and had 12 goals, 37 assists and 107 penalty minutes.
He also spent one season in the British Columbia Hockey League and one in the USHL.
DeKeyser was one of the NHL's most sought-after free agents last year before deciding to stay at WMU.
Via Paul, it's impossible to find WMU highlights, so here he is scoring in the BCHL:
Update #3: Take this for what you will:
Welcome to the "Red Wings way":
As does the Free Press's Helene St. James:
The Detroit Red Wings have won the Danny DeKeyser sweepstakes.
DeKeyser, 23, became an unrestricted free agent last weekend when his Western Michigan career ended with the Broncos being shut out of the NCAA tournament. The defenseman was never drafted, and thus for the past few days he's been wooed by a half-dozen teams eager to secure his services for nothing more than money.
DeKeyser has good mobility, good reach, and handles the puck well. The Wings view him as a building piece. Team scouts have kept a keen eye on him over the past year, and say he's gotten a lot stronger and gone in the right direction.
He will join Wings practices as soon as possible, but won't play Sunday.
Update #8: From the Wings' Facebook page:
OFFICIAL: WINGS AGREE TO TERMS WITH FREE AGENT DEFENSEMAN DAN DEKEYSER
Detroit, MI... Detroit Red Wings Executive Vice President and General Manager Ken Holland today announced that the club has agreed to terms with free agent defenseman Dan DeKeyser on a two-year contract. In accordance with team policy, additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.
DeKeyser, 23, spent the past three seasons patrolling the blue line at Western Michigan University of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. During his freshman campaign in 2010-11, DeKeyser posted 17 points (5-12-17) in 42 games, led the Broncos with 54 blocked shots and was named to the CCHA All-Rookie Team. The 6-3, 198-lb. defenseman played his first year at Western Michigan under current Grand Rapids Griffins head coach and former Red Wings assistant coach, Jeff Blashill.
DeKeyser played his sophomore and junior seasons under the tutelage of former National Hockey League bench boss Andy Murray. In 2011-12, his second season at Western Michigan, the Clay Township, Mich., native skated in 41 games, collecting 17 points (5-12-17) and 42 penalty minutes. He was selected as the CCHA’s best defensive defenseman and named a Second Team All-American. This past season, DeKeyser appeared in 35 games for the Broncos, notching 15 points (2-13-15) and finishing second on the team with 56 blocked shots. He was a CCHA All-Conference First Team selection as voted on by the 11 CCHA head coaches and was also honored as the CCHA’s best defensive defenseman for the second consecutive season.
Update #11: More from Holland via the Free Press's Helene St. James:
"We're happy," general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press. "You're always looking for defensemen. We're trying to rebuild the defense, and he's 6-foot-3. He's a rangy, mobile guy. He capped off his season by winning best defenseman in the CCHA. We like him."
DeKeyser, 23, was born in Maccomb and graduated from De La Salle High School. He became an unrestricted free agent last weekend when his Western Michigan career ended with the Broncos being shut out of the NCAA tournament. He was never drafted, and thus was wooed by many clubs who saw a chance to add an NHL-ready player - days before the trade deadline - for nothing more than an entry-level contract.
Holland said DeKeyser will be at practice Saturday, but he won't play Sunday when the Wings host the Blackhawks, or Monday against the Avalanche.
"He needs to practice," Holland said. "I would say that at the pro level, he's a defensive defenseman. He's got to get stronger. He'll be with us the rest of the regular season. When he plays is up to Mike Babcock, but we're not holding tryouts. We're trying to make the playoffs. Danny understands that we're in a playoff race."
DeKeyser's biggest asset is his mobility. He's been on the radar of many an NHL scout since last year, and several in the Wings organization have kept a close eye on him. They've been impressed with how he's grown into his frame, and his maturity.
"We're very, very happy to add him to our club," Holland said.
And the Edmonton Journal sounds bummed:
he Detroit Red Wings have won the Danny DeKeyser sweepstakes.
According to a tweet from TSN's Bob MacKenzie, the NHL club landed the services of the highly sought-after free agent U.S. college defenceman Friday afternoon, choosing them over other suitors reportedly in the running, including the Edmonton Oilers, the Anaheim Ducks, the St. Louis Blues and the Nashville Predators.
DeKeyser, a 23-year-old Michigan native, stands six-foot-three, 198 pounds and is "very close" to being ready to jump to the NHL, his Western Michigan coach, Andy Murray, told the Journal's John MacKinnon earlier this week.
“His calling card is really five things — his work ethic, on and off the ice; his skating ability; his defensive stick; his talent as a puck mover; and his intelligence as a hockey player," Murray said.
DeKeyser met with NHL teams interested in him this week in Toronto, including an Oilers contingent that included team president Kevin Lowe and vice-president of hockey operations Craig MacTavish. Head coach Ralph Krueger and defenceman Justin Schultz, a University of Wisconsin grad whom Edmonton landed in similar fashion last summer, spoke to DeKeyser by phone.
Update #12.5: The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness pulled an Eklund:
Quick update from a call from Wings general manager Ken Holland, defenseman Danny DeKeyser will be practice with the team Saturday and won’t play Sunday or Monday.
More to come…
Update #13: TSN is late to the party:
Highly sought-after college free agent defenceman Dan DeKeyser has chosen to sign with the Detroit Red Wings.
The top NCAA prospect from Western Michigan University signed an entry-level contract with the team on Friday, choosing the Red Wings over several others including the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning.
The 23-year-old Michigan native spent the past three seasons with the Western Michigan Broncos. This past season, DeKeyser appeared in 35 games, notching two goals and 13 assists and finishing second on the team with 56 blocked shots. He was a CCHA All-Conference First Team selection as voted on by the 11 CCHA head coaches and was also honoured as the CCHA's best defensive defenceman for the second consecutive season.
The Wings' website posted their press release, too.
Update #14: WDFN's Doug Todd posted Hockey'sFuture's take...
Dan DeKeyser, D
Sophomore, Western Michigan University
With 30 NHL teams pursuing him, Dan DeKeyser has become the hottest commodity on the collegiate free agent market this season. And it’s not hard to see why. Two NHL teams that have shown some of the greatest interest in the Broncos rearguard are the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Clay Township, MI native began making a name for himself with Western Michigan last season as an excellent mobile, puck-moving defenseman. This season, he has taken his development to a whole new level and that has had NHL teams clamoring to get glimpses of him.
DeKeyser’s combination of size (6’3, 190 lbs), great feet and terrific shot has made NHL teams take notice. His skating is very good, but it is his footwork that separates DeKeyser from many collegiate defensemen and it’s really something to marvel at. He moves exceedingly well both in the defensive and offensive zones. The 10 or so pounds that he added over the summer has simply enhanced that attribute, making DeKeyser not only a stronger skater, but also heightening his fundamentally sound positional play as well. Where this is particularly evident is in his ability to contain players and limiting spaces on the ice.
Another attribute that has gotten the attention of NHL teams is DeKeyser’s shot. He possesses a very powerful and remarkably accurate shot. It isn’t often that his shots miss the net. While he can score goals himself, DeKeyser’s shots aren’t always to score but rather to create rebounds that can be difficult to control.
DeKeyser can be seen playing on the Broncos’ top defensive pairing, alongside junior Luke Witkowski (TB). He logs upwards of 25-30 minutes per game, playing in all situations. He has played in all 36 games for Western Michigan to date, posting 13 points (five goals, eight assists). DeKeyser’s plus-11 currently ranks third on the Broncos roster.
DeKeyser projects to be more of a two-way defenseman due to his great offensive ability and equally stellar defensive ability.
As well as a clip of DeKeyser accepting the CCHA's best defensive player award:
Nice one, Michigan Hockey:
Update #16: Real tears! Per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeremy Rutherford:
After making a trip to Toronto this week to schmooze with NCAA defenseman Danny DeKeyser, the Blues learned Friday afternoon that the free-agent has decided to sign with the Detroit Red Wings.
DeKeyser, a 23-year-old late-bloomer who went unpicked in the NHL draft when he was eligible, was permitted to pick any team, and the Macomb, Mich., native chose to stay close to home.
DeKeyser, who played for former Blues coach Andy Murray at Western Michigan University, will sign a two-year, entry-level contract. Nearly every team in the NHL had interest in DeKeyser, but the Blues were among a handful of teams believed to be legitimately in the running for the defenseman. All clubs were on equal footing as to what they could offer him financially.
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong and senior adviser Al MacInnis met with DeKeyser and his agents Wednesday in Toronto and had a productive meeting. But in the end, he selected the Red Wings, whom he will report to Saturday.
Update #17: The Edmonton Journal's Joanne Ireland's declaring that "Defenseman DeKeyser Shuns Oilers":
The options were limitless for Dan DeKeyser, an undrafted late-blooming defensive defenceman who spent the last several days entertaining pitches from a string of NHL teams, including the Edmonton Oilers.
In the end, the native of Macomb, Mich., elected to sign as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings, a team rebuilding a defence that lost its foundation when seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom retired last year.
The Red Wings also went into the truncated 2013 season without veteran blue-liner Brad Stuart, having traded the pending free agent to the San Jose Sharks in June.
DeKeyser spent the last three years at Western Michigan University, claiming the Central Collegiate Hockey Association’s defensive defenceman honours two years running.
The Oilers, who landed former NCAA defenceman Justin Schultz as a free agent last summer, had the rookie and head coach Ralph Krueger call DeKeyser. In addition, Oilers president Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish, the vice-president of hockey operations, met with the 23-year-old in the Toronto offices of Newport Sports.
It obviously wasn’t enough to sway DeKeyser, who had several ties to the Red Wings. For starters, he played under Jeff Blashill for one season and played youth hockey with the son of assistant general manager Jim Nill. Blashill is a former Red Wings assistant who is now coaching the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, Grand Rapids Griffins.
DeKeyser will join the Red Wings immediately and remain with the club through the rest of the regular season, but he won’t play Saturday. General manager Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press that DeKeyser needed practice time.
“We’re trying to rebuild the defence,” Holland said, “and he’s a rangy, mobile guy. We’re very, very happy to add him to our club.”
Update #18: The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan spoke to Holland about adding DeKeyser...
"We want him to stay with us the rest of the season, we think it'll be a good learning experience," general manager Ken Holland said.
Beginning Thursday, a day after the trade deadline, NHL teams can carry an unlimited roster (similar to September in major league baseball). DeKeyser will continue to practice with the Red Wings, and Holland feels DeKeyser could ultimately play in a game.
"I like his size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds), I like his range, I like his skating ability, I like his age (23)," Holland said. "We feel he can turn into a good shut-down defenseman."
DeKeyser, 23, played in 118 games at WMU scoring 49 points (12 goals, 37 assists) with 107 penalty minutes.
Money wasn't a factor in this decision. All 30 NHL teams could only offer the same, standard entry-level contract. It was up to DeKeyser to choose.
"When you have a local guy who wants to play for you and stay in the area, you want him to play for your team," Holland said.
And the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness spoke to both Holland and assistant GM Jim Nill about the signing:
“We’re going to keep him on our NHL roster for the rest of the season,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said during a phone interview. “We go to an expanded roster after the trade deadline so we think it’s real good. He’ll be available to play, but it’s also an opportunity for him to experience what life is like on an NHL roster on a day-to-day everyday basis.”
“He hasn’t skated for about two weeks,” Holland said. “If Mike Babcock chooses to use him in a game along the way it’s Mike’s decision. Certainly Danny understands we’re fighting for a playoff spot and we’re not holding tryouts. It’s a competition. Is he going to play, I don’t know,” Holland continued. “We need wins. We’re not putting people out there in position where they’re quite not prepared for the opportunity. He needs to practice every day. Let’s put him on the ice every day, practice him for four or five days and let Mike Babcock decide if he’s going to play. We think the experience of being in the NHL, practicing every day with the likes of (Henrik) Zetterberg and being with Mike Babcock and somewhere down the road if he goes into the lineup, like we’re hoping, and then from there we’ll see.”
“Anytime you can add a young, Grade A prospect to your team, it’s pretty good,” Jim Nill said. “He’s a free agent that could go anywhere and he decided to come to us. If you can add a young defenseman that doesn’t cost you any assets, that’s important. I think a lot of it is he’s from here,” Nill added about why he thought DeKeyser chose Detroit. “He grew up here. The Detroit Red Wings have always been his favorite team. To be able to play in front of your family and friends, that’s huge. That’s got a lot to do with it.”
“We’re excited,” Holland said. “He’s 6-foot-3. He’s a great skater, very mobile. At the pro level we see him as a real good defensive solid D-man. He’s gotten better every year in college hockey. He was the CCHA defenseman of the year. He can pass the puck. And like all the younger players he’s got to get stronger. We’ve got Xavier Ouellet coming and Ryan Sproul turning pro next year so we’re slowly trying to turn our defense from the Nick Lidstrom era to maybe not superstars, but certainly a lot of defensemen that are really good and solid NHL D-men,” Holland added.
Over the summer the Wings made pitches for a number of prized free agent defenseman including Ryan Suter.
“We’re in the process of developing another corps of D after losing the Rafalskis, Lidstroms and Stuarts so there’s better opportunity here,” Holland said. “He’s a year older. He’s more mature and it’s a great fit. I’m happy we’re able to land him. Giving the relationships that were involved I was really hopeful that he would choose to stay home and play for his hometown team and he has done just that.”
Wings general manager Ken Holland didn’t know if forwards Johan Franzen (lower-body) or Mikael Samuelsson (broken index finger) would be available for Sunday’s home game with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Franzen will see a doctor Saturday after getting injured in Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks and missing the entire third period.
Samuelsson has been cleared to return, but now it’s just a matter of conditioning.
The Wings sent defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo to Grand Rapids for a conditioning stint. Colaiacovo, who was cleared to play last week, has missed the last 29 games after suffering a shoulder injury in the second game of the season.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.