Coming to an agreement now helps the two parties avoid their scheduled arbitration date, and buys up a handful of DeKeyser’s UFA years. It comes with some bonuses, which won’t be enough for true buyout protection, but puts DeKeyser in an improved situation should it come to that. Additionally, he gets a no-trade clause from the 2017-18 season through the 2019-20 season, according to TSN’s Aaron Ward. For the last year and a half of the deal, he’ll have a modified no-trade clause.
16-17 3M /1M bonus
17-18 5m /500k bonus
18-19 5m /500k bonus
19-20 5m /500k bonus
21-22 4.5m /500k bonus
— Aaron Ward (@NHL_AaronWard) July 26, 2016
DeKeyser saw the second most ice time among team defenseman last season and could easily pass up Niklas Kronwall in that category this coming year. The undrafted 26-year-old scored a career-high eight goals last year, along with 20 points and 44 penalty minutes.
Despite Kronwall passing him up in overall ice time, it was clear that the coaching staff was shifting the weight to DeKeyser’s shoulders. He led the team in even-strength ice time.
While it was crucial for the Red Wings to lock him up because there aren’t many other options — DeKeyser was the second youngest defenseman on the team last season — many have questioned the role he’s taken on as the team’s top defender. Some things out of his control often lead to stats like his Goals For Percentage (due in part to a strong on-ice save percentage) appearing disproportionately strong compared to other metrics that more reliably indicate the quality of his play.
The deal puts the Red Wings over the cap and they still have to sign goaltender Petr Mrazek this week with his arbitration case on the horizon for Wednesday. However, they should be able to place Johan Franzen’s $3.9 million and Joe Vitale’s $1.1 million on long-term injured reserve at the start of the season, thus becoming cap compliant, though no doubt a little closer to the ceiling than is optimal.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.