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Red Wings Firsts: Danny DeKeyser

First goal for the Red Wings' defenseman will be memorable

Wednesday, 05.7.2014 / 12:00 AM ET / News
Detroit Red Wings
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Red Wings Firsts: Danny DeKeyser
Danny DeKeyser scored his first NHL goal in the Red Wings' 4-2 loss at Winnipeg on Nov. 4. He finished the season with four goals and 23 points. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – There are few sounds as sweet as netting your first NHL goal.

“It was pretty special for me,” Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser said. “It’s always good to get the first goal and get it out of the way. It feels like there’s a little bit of a weight on your shoulders trying to get the first one so it felt good, it felt like a relief.”

DeKeyser scored his first NHL goal on Nov. 4 in Detroit’s 4-2 loss at Winnipeg. The rookie defenseman was the lucky recipient of a shorthanded faceoff, as Stephen Weiss swiftly won the draw and passed the puck back to Niklas Kronwall, who found DeKeyser for a slapshot midway through the second period.

It’s a memory the 24-year-old won’t forget anytime soon.

“It was right in the middle of the game, but a few guys on the bench said congrats on the first goal,” DeKeyser said. “It was good to get it, get it out of the way and keep playing.”

The defenseman did just that, as he proceeded to do all season for the Red Wings. But the road to play for his favorite childhood team was quite the unconventional one.

DeKeyser played for the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters in 2008-09 and the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers in 2009-10, before becoming a Western Michigan Bronco for three years. The Detroit, Michigan, native was named a Second-Team All-American during his sophomore and junior years at WMU, and also earned the CCHA’s Best Defensive Defenseman award.

But despite the successful years and honors, DeKeyser went undrafted in 2013. The draft’s loss turned out to be the Wings’ gain, as Detroit signed the defenseman as an undrafted free agent on March 30, 2013.

“Coming in the way he did last year, it really is impressive,” Kronwall said. “I don’t think people realize what he did. To come in straight from college and basically come in and play top-four minutes, it’s very unusual. But he comes from a good background, he’s a really good guy, a really good young player, who wants to learn, asking questions and just wants to improve and get better all the time.”

There’s no doubt that DeKeyser has continued to develop since making his NHL debut on April 5, 2013. The defenseman recorded one assist through 11 games at the end of the 2012-13 season before permanently earning a spot on the Wings’ roster six months later.

DeKeyser consistently played top-four minutes throughout the 2013-14 season, finishing with

4 goals and 19 assists and a plus-minus of 10 through 65 regular season games to help the Wings extend their playoff streak to 23 years.

Although the Detroit native may not have been on the scorer’s sheet every night, defensemen know all too well that it’s not always about the plays you make, but the mistakes you avoid. DeKeyser followed that principle like a professional far beyond his 24 years.

“He’s doing so many other good things for us out there,” said Kronwall. “He’s helping our team in so many ways that scoring maybe hasn’t been that big a part of it so to speak. But now he’s stepped up, he’s got a good shot and we’d like for him to use it as often as possible.”

Scoring has never been one of DeKeyser’s priorities, though. The defenseman only scored eight goals in the BCHL, one in the USHL and 12 in his three years at WMU, recording a total of 21 goals in 217 games.

He may not be an offensive powerhouse, but you can bet DeKeyser remembers the first time he netted a goal at each level.

“It’s something when you get your first goal, you’re going to remember them,” said DeKeyser. “It’s a pretty good feeling.”

And the most memorable one? It’s not that hard to guess.

“This one for sure,” DeKeyser said with a laugh. “The college goals are nice and the junior goals are nice, too but it’s nothing like your first NHL goal I don’t think.”

The way DeKeyser played this past season, his first goal will be far from his last. But not every goal will have such a special place in his heart, or on his wall, as the first.

“I’ll probably just frame it and put it on the wall,” said DeKeyser of the puck.

The puck will have plenty of company on the wall in the coming years, as his NHL journey has just recently begun.




1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
5 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
11 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
12 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47


D. Larkin 54 18 20 25 38
H. Zetterberg 55 10 28 5 38
T. Tatar 54 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 55 14 16 -1 30
P. Datsyuk 40 9 21 14 30
J. Abdelkader 55 14 15 -2 29
M. Green 47 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 41 5 11 6 16
D. DeKeyser 51 7 8 12 15
P. Mrazek 21 10 5 .933 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89