Shortly after wishing him a happy birthday on their Twitter feed, it was announced that the Detroit Red Wings placed defenceman Danny DeKeyser on waivers.
As it is often said, the NHL is a business, and this move proved that entirely. DeKeyser, who turned 32 years old on Monday, has played all his 531 career NHL games with the Red Wings after signing with them as an undrafted free agent back in March of 2013.
For a number of years, DeKeyser was a very solid shutdown defenceman for the Red Wings who didn’t get the credit he deserved due to his team's struggles. However, father time appears to be catching up, as he has struggled in recent seasons and is not playing at nearly the caliber needed for his $5 million cap hit.
The good news for the Red Wings is that DeKeyser is set to become a free agent this offseason. Given his veteran experience, he may be able to latch on with a new team on a much cheaper deal, but he certainly won’t be relied upon to play north of twenty minutes a game which he often did during his prime years.
In 43 games this season, DeKeyser has just six assists and has seen his ice time diminish. While the decision by the Red Wings makes sense in some regard, it is quite odd they chose to do it on his birthday of all days, especially given the fact they sit 15 points behind the Washington Capitals for the final wild card position in the Eastern Conference. This move, however, is expected to have been made to create room for Jakub Vrana who is nearing a return from a shoulder injury sustained in training camp.
Assuming DeKeyser clears waivers, he'll likely end up being assigned to the Grand Rapid Griffins of the American Hockey League (AHL). It would be his first time ever suiting up in the AHL, as he cracked the Red Wings roster immediately after leaving Western Michigan University.
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