DETROIT >> Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser realizes how special it is to be able to play for your hometown team.
And he’s going to get to do so for the next six seasons.
On Tuesday, the restricted free agent signed a six-year deal worth $30 million to remain with the Wings.
“Today just kind of makes me realize how lucky I am and how special of an opportunity I have to play here,” DeKeyser said. “It’s just a place I like to play. I don’t want to go anywhere else and I was pretty happy that we were able to work with Kenny (Holland) and get a deal done. So I’m just excited about it.”
DeKeyser, who was born in Detroit, graduated from De La Salle and grew up in Macomb Township.
“Anybody who is from Michigan I’m sure has grown up a big Red Wings fan just like myself,” DeKeyser said. “It’s been great for me to play here.”
DeKeyser had an arbitration meeting hearing scheduled for Thursday.
“It was kind of up in the air for a little bit, but I would say the last week or so is when I kind of figured out that it wasn’t going to arbitration, so as time was kind of winding down toward that date I wasn’t really too concerned about it actually going there.”
DeKeyser, 26, is coming off a two-year contract with a salary-cap hit of $2.187 million.
He had eight goals and 12 assists in 78 games last season and averaged the second most amount of ice time on the team.
“Two years ago I had 31 points and I had some power play time,” DeKeyser said. “This year my point total was down, but led the D in goals, so I thought that was a pretty good accomplishment to do that.
“I didn’t have any power play time this past year so sometimes it’s hard to pick up those extra points when you’re not playing on the power play,” DeKeyser added. “Whether I’m on that or not it doesn’t matter, I’m just going to do my role, five-on-five and penalty kill and if I do get a chance on the power play I’m comfortable playing that as well. I don’t know if I’ll get to 40 or 45 points without playing the power play, but it’s a possibility that’s for sure.”
In 234 career regular season games DeKeyser has 14 goals and 61 assists with plus-minus rating of plus-27. His playoff numbers aren’t great with just a goal, an assist and a minus-8 rating in 19 games.
“I just try to move the puck well, play solid defensively, chip in some points or goals here or there when I can,” DeKeyser said. “Just try to be a good team player and do things that help the team win. Just be a steady defenseman.”
DeKeyser continues a trend of late in the NHL of young, talented players getting long-term deals to remain with the team they started their career with.
“I think it’s such a good fit for both the player and the team,” DeKeyser said. “That’s what you see happening in some of these cases because a player gets comfortable in one spot. Guys don’t like to be bouncing around from team to team. They like to have some stability, so as long as it matches well with the team and the team is happy with how the player has produced and how he has done for the team then if it makes sense for both sides that’s why you see some of these deals happening more often and guys not getting to unrestricted free agency too much.”
Along with locking up DeKeyser, Luke Glendening and Darren Helm to long-term deals this offseason, the Wings added Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek and Steve Ott on the first day off free agency to help try and fill the void left by Pavel Datsyuk.
“I definitely think there are some good possibilities for us here,” DeKeyser said. “Losing Pavel hurts. There’s nobody that’s going to be able to replace him. There’s no single guy that can replace him. We got some veteran forwards that have proven in the past can score goals and help out teams. I’m real excited to see what these guys can do and help us out. We have some young guys that will be taking some bigger steps here as well.
“Like I said, losing Pav hurts, but we’re just going to try and move on and do the best that we can without him because that’s the only thing we can do,” DeKeyser continued. “I think we’ll be fine. I think we have the potential to have a really good season.”
DeKeyser, who’s getting married in September prior to training camp, was one of the NHL’s most sought-after free agents coming out of Western Michigan. He chose to join the Wings in March 2013 over a handful of other teams and he quickly became one of their top defensemen.
In three seasons at WMU, DeKeyser, who was undrafted, appeared in 118 games and had 12 goals, 37 assists and 107 penalty minutes.