Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser talks about what new teammate, Trevor Daley, brings to the team. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Detroit — Everyone around the Red Wings organization has been excited about the addition of defenseman Trevor Daley.
Add Danny DeKeyser to the long list.
DeKeyser, who’ll likely be paired with Daley, said adding Daley makes the Red Wings a stronger hockey team.
“It’s great,” DeKeyser said of Daley’s addition through free agency. “I’ve watched him play for a few years now and obviously he’s a veteran, been the league for a long time. He’s an unbelievable skater.”
It’s Daley’s skating and mobility, his ability to skate the puck out of trouble and starting an offensive attack, is something that attracted the Red Wings, who haven’t a defenseman in recent seasons who can do that.
“He moves the puck well, gets up into the play and creates a lot of offense in that aspect of the game,” DeKeyser said at the Red Wings’ youth camp earlier this month. “He should help us a lot. The way he skates, he skates a lot better than other defensemen in this league. He can still wheel out there.”
DeKeyser, 27, mirrored much of the Red Wings roster last season in having disappointing, sub-par seasons.
While playing all 82 games last season, DeKeyser had four goals and eight assists (12 points), with a ghastly minus-22 plus-minus rating.
Always sound positionally, with good defensive instincts, DeKeyser wasn’t as good in that area last season and costly turnovers became a problem.
Playing with a sound veteran such as Daley, the Red Wings hope, can get DeKeyser back on the positive arc he was before last season.
For his part, DeKeyser feels if the Red Wings can be better defensively and the power play, they’ll be closer to returning to the playoffs.
“Those are two big things,” DeKeyser said. “Obviously power play needs to be better this year. It was good towards the end of the year and if we had that throughout the first three, four months of the season, we would have been right in maybe for a playoff position.
“Then, (if) we can get a little better in our D (defensive) zone, too. That should add some goals for us power play-wise and then cleaning up the D zone a bit, that should subtract some goals against.”
Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser discusses the team's addition of defenseman Luke Witkowski. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
DeKeyser feels the team filled a need from a physical standpoint by adding DeKeyser’s former teammate — and roommate — at Western Michigan, defenseman/forward Luke Witkowski (Holland).
Many analysts have felt the Red Wings needed a physical presence for some time, and Witkowski can adequately fill that role.
“He’s a good buddy of mine, he stood up in my wedding,” said DeKeyser, showing the close relationship of the two former Broncos. “He’s a big boy. He doesn’t shy away away from any of the rough stuff, that’s for sure. He’s always protecting his teammates.
“That’s definitely an aspect that we could use here for sure and it’ll help us.”
DeKeyser took some time off after the completion of the regular season, and then competing for Team USA at the world championships in May with coach Jeff Blashill, and teammates Jimmy Howard and Dylan Larkin.
Team USA was outstanding in the preliminary round (6-1-0), but ran into a hot Finland team, losing in the quarterfinals, 2-0.
“It was a good run, it ended a little earlier than we would have liked,” DeKeyser said. “We got hot in the early round and not so much in the medal round. That was unfortunate but we had a good team, a lot of really good players, and it was fun to be part of.”
Lately DeKeyser has been increasing his skating and workload, getting ready for the start of conditioning skates and the start of training camp in mid-September.
DeKeyser has taken part instructing in hockey camps — he helped out at Larkin’s earlier this month along with the JLA youth camp.
“It’s fun, (the) last couple of weeks have been good,” It’s been a good couple weeks and it’s fun to work with the kids.
“I’ve been working out in the mornings and starting to pick up my skating a little bit, with more days on the ice the last couple of weeks and been ramping up for the next couple of weeks.”
DeKeyser was pleased to see JLA one more time, having taken part in the youth camp.
“I didn’t know if I was going to get back here or not,” DeKeyser said. “It’s kind of weird. I’m excited to see the news place (Little Caesars Arena). I haven’t been in there for a while. I haven’t been in there for a while, but I hear it’s coming along so that’ll be nice.”