The Vancouver Canucks have signed defenceman Danny DeKeyser to a professional tryout, the club announced Friday.
DeKeyser, 32, is a 6’3″, 183-pound left-handed defender who spent the first 10 seasons of his National Hockey League career with the Detroit Red Wings.
DeKeyser recorded 11 assists and averaged 18:30 in 59 games with the Red Wings during the 2021–22 regular season. He primarily played as Moritz Seider’s partner on Detroit’s top pair at even strength.
Once upon a time, DeKeyser was a legitimate top-four National Hockey League defenceman. He received Calder Trophy votes back in 2014 and signed a massive six-year, $36 million extension with the Red Wings two years later.
But DeKeyser has decidedly not been that player in recent seasons. Injuries have taken their toll on the Detroit product, who appeared in just eight games in 2019–20 and hasn’t played more than 65 in a season since 2016–17.
Despite spending 671 of his 917 minutes of five-on-five ice time next to Seider last season, DeKeyser struggled mightily to keep up at both ends of the ice — an assessment backed up by the numbers and the eye test.
The Canucks clearly hope DeKeyser can be better than he’s shown over his last few seasons in Detroit, although he doesn’t really address their bigger problem on the right side. DeKeyser primarily plays on the left, where the Canucks already have Quinn Hughes, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Jack Rathbone, among others.
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Canucks allowed (on average) 2.51 expected goals per 60 minutes at even strength in 2021–22, good to finish 18th in the league — although, largely thanks to Thatcher Demko, their 236 goals against ranked eighth.
DeKeyser will likely compete with the likes of Luke Schenn, Kyle Burroughs, Brady Keeper, and Noah Juulsen for a spot as a depth defenceman on the Canucks’ NHL roster.
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