Two years ago, a lot of Detroit Red Wings fans turned on Danny Dekeyser. The former golden boy free agent, a Michigan native and Western Michigan University alumni, was the toast of Hockeytown when he spurned all other offers, chose Detroit, and immediately earned a starting job with the Red Wings.
But then the 6'3 defenseman got paid.-- a six-year, $30 million deal. With that pay came higher expectations.
And suddenly, really awful and anemic play at both ends of the ice.
Dekeyser had been known as a big, rangy, smooth-skating defenseman who made a nice first pass and who had an active stick which he used to his advantage in the d-zone.
But as the contract started, Dekeyser slumped. He went from 8-12-20 +2 to 4-8-12 -22. Only Dylan Larkin and Riley.Sheahan had a worse plus-minus.
His underlying numbers dropped, too. His CF% went from 53.78 to 46.10.
The Wings were sliding to the NHL basement. So, to noone's surprise, the minute munchers saw their stats take a dive. But even among Red Wings' defensemen, Dekeyser's stats were worrisome.
He had the worst CF% on the defense. By far, he had the worst GF% at 41.13. His goals against/60 was an astronimical 3.01 at 5 on 5.
And offensively, his .41 points/60 was awful, eclipsed easily by luminaries like Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet, Nick Jensen and Ryan Sproul.
Dekeyser stablized his game last year. He rose his CF% to 49.32 -- third best on the defense behind Jensen and Ouellet. He stablized his GF%, raising it to 50 - best on the defense.
His offense improved slightly to .53 points/60 - which ranked him better than Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley.
But this year? Let's start by saying his CF% remains unchanged. 49.35 percent is still third on the team, behind Jensen and Filip Hronek.
But here's the first big improvement. Dekeyser's GF% is 64.10 - best on the Wings defense. 64.1 percent is a terrific number.
Here's the second big surprise. Dekeyser has nearly tripled his offensive production to 1.46 points/60 - behind only Mike Green. These are 5-on-5 numbers and don't even include his OT winner from the Toronto game.
So here's Dekeyser's points/60 since 13-14.
And his GF%
Dekeyser has only played 26 games. So there's that. But in those 26 games, he's been great. The Red Wings are 12-10-4 when Dekeyser is in the lineup - not a great record, but respectable. But if you wipe out his first six games, the Wings are 12-6-2.
Dekeyser's most common partners have been Jensen and Dennis Cholowski.
He's played 292 minutes with Jensen at 5 on 5. The team has scored 18 goals and given up just seven when paired. Their CF is slightly under 50 percent.
Same kind of CF numbers with Cholowski, with a 3-vs-3 goal differential.