DETROIT – For the third time this season, the Red Wings have lost a defenseman to a shoulder injury.
Rookie Danny DeKeyser is the latest after leaving Tuesday’s game early in obvious pain following a collision with Nashville forward Patric Hornqvist.
“He's out for a bit,” coach Mike Babcock said following the Wings’ 2-0 loss to the Predators. “I don't know the total details. I don't know if anybody has come out and decided anything or if they're going to wait ‘til tomorrow to tell you exactly how long it'll be. But he's definitely not playing this week.”
Wings GM Ken Holland said that DeKeyser will have tests on Wednesday to determine the severity of the injury, though speculation is that the Warren, Mich., native will miss 1-2 weeks with some type of separation.
DeKeyser was hurt at 3:41 of the opening period when he was driven hard into the end boards behind the Red Wings’ net. He skated off under his own strength but clearly appeared to favor his left shoulder.
The game between the two former Central Division rivals featured two of the best young defensemen in the league with DeKeyser, who was last spring’s most coveted undrafted free agent, and Nashville’s Seth Jones, the fourth overall pick in last June’s draft.
Shoulder injuries have already cost the Wings this season as defensemen Jonathan Ericsson and Brendan Smith missed 10 and six games, respectively, while recovering from shoulder separations. Smith returned from his injury Tuesday night.
But the 23-year-old DeKeyser, who has played in just 33 NHL games, has played beyond his years since signing with the Red Wings last April. He has been one of the most reliable defensemen for the Wings, producing two goals and nine points in 22 games. He’s even gained valuable ice time on special teams, scoring his first career power-play goal against Washington last Friday.
“Obviously as you know he's a real good player for us, he gets the puck going, he's a good transitional D,” Babcock said. “If you watched Jones for them tonight, you see what a transitional D can do to get the puck going fast.”
Heading into Tuesday’s game, Jones and DeKeyser were ranked first and second in ice time among league rookies.
“You know he means a lot to this team,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “He’s been one of our better players all season long. We’ll see how he is and hopefully he’ll be back soon.”
DeKeyser logged 1:21 of ice time in two shifts before the injury Tuesday. He suffered a fractured right thumb in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals at Anaheim last May. He needed surgery to repair the fracture and missed the rest of the playoffs.
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose
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