Stop reading if you’ve heard this one before. The Detroit Red Wings will be without another key player for more than a month, as head coach Jeff Blashill told reporters today including Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press that Danny DeKeyser will miss four to six weeks with a hand injury. This comes after just yesterday announcing the same recovery timeline for Anthony Mantha, also out with a hand injury.
DeKeyser, 28, hasn’t quite turned into the star two-way defenseman that some thought he was on track to become after he experienced so much success as a young player, but is still a reliable option for the Red Wings on the blue line. Logging more than 21 minutes of ice time this season, he had seven points in his first 20 games and was on track for his best offensive season in quite some time. Unfortunately, injury limited him to 65 games last season and looks like it will keep him out of the lineup perhaps even longer this year. Six weeks would put DeKeyser on track for a mid-January return, at which point the Red Wings could find themselves out of the race for an Atlantic Division playoff spot.
As they continue to try and move on to the next wave of talent in Detroit, DeKeyser is the one defenseman who is still signed long-term. The team needs him and his $5MM cap hit to stay healthy enough to contribute going forward, especially as the other veteran options start to reach unrestricted free agency. Experience and leadership will be required as young players like Dennis Cholowski, Filip Hronek and others start to see more and more playing time, and DeKeyser will be the one who is looked at for both. That is of course if the Red Wings decide to keep him through this rebuild, which isn’t necessarily a guarantee.
The defenseman has a full no-trade clause currently, but that will reduce to just a 10-team clause on January 1, 2021. Even before that date the team could potentially approach him with a deal, given that he’s likely one of the only high-salary players on the team with any real value. For now though, he’ll have to work hard to get through his rehab and get back on the ice.