Detroit Red Wings place veteran Danny Dekeyser on waivers

The Detroit Red Wings waived struggling defenseman Danny Dekeyser, 32, on Monday, leaving his NHL career in limbo.

Given his $5 million salary, Dekeyser is likely to rescind the waivers. Dekeyser must then decide if he is ready to play for Grand Rapids in the American League. Dekeyser allowed waivers last season but ended up being brought back to the Red Wing later in the season.

The Red Wings entered the season hoping Dekeyser would be one of their top four defensemen. They expected the leg strength lost to back injury and surgery to return. But he was no longer the same defender he was before the injury.

“Danny before back surgery had some strength and skating power that he might never have at the same level again,” Blashill said. “It’s just the reality of having a major injury. Does he have the same strength, power in his skating, same fluidity? Probably not. So he doesn’t have quite the same level of strength.

“I don’t know if he will still have it or not. Is he striving to keep going… yeah, he works hard in the weight room, works hard off the ice, works hard with our sports science staff to try to make him the best he can be. At the same time, as you get older, these things sometimes get harder too.

Blashill sat Dekeyser for a few games after going -6 in back-to-back games against the Colorado Avalanche and Toronto Maple Leafs. He was +1 in his last game against the Florida Panthers. But he is at -12 for the season. Nick Leddy (-28) has the Red Wings’ worst plus-minus. But Dekeyser’s Corsi rating of 44.9 is the worst among Detroit defenders who have played more than 20 games.

Dekeyser hails from the Detroit area and played collegiate at Western Michigan. But fans have been complaining about his level of play declining for two seasons. It’s impossible to exclude all the noise from social media.

Dekeyser will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. If he chooses to play in Grand Rapids, he could end up like Jonathan Ericsson. The great Swedish defender had a long and impressive career in Detroit. But the fans turned on him in the end when he didn’t perform as well. He finished his Red Wings career with Grand Rapids.

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